Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Great American Recipe: chowder

America is not exactly renowned for contributing to the great cuisines of the world.

Lots of accomplished chefs, but more famous, perhaps, for hot dogs and doughnuts and frozen pizza and TV meals. For adopting imported culinary traditions – ergo the California roll, the apple pie, the pastrami sandwich. For showcasing the food of the world in some of the best restaurants in the world. But not for offering its own unique food tradition.

Scratch the surface, however, and you find food that is informed and shaped around the immediate environment, local produce and climate, people and history. Perfect regional cuisine.

The New England clam chowder is a perfect example of a definitive regional cuisine. Incorporating key ingredients that are local (corn, potato, clams), chowder, whilst inspired by European fish soups, is quintessentially North American. Rich, sweet but also restrained and economical, this soup captures the New England terroir, warming in the cold, cold winter and fresh in the humid summer.

God bless America.
Seafood, corn and potato chowder

Serves 4

¾ cup dry white wine
300 g green tiger prawns
350 g mussels
350 g clams
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 carrot, cut into ½ cm dice
1 leek, white part only, cut into ½ cm dice
½ brown onion, cut into ½ cm dice
1 small bulb fennel, cut into ½ cm dice
2 rashers really good smokey bacon, cut into ½ cm dice
3 cloves garlic, very finely sliced
1 bay leaf
750 mls water
2 small waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ cm dice
Kernels of 1 cob of corn
2 tbsp pure cream
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Heat a very large pan with the lid on until hot. Add wine and seafood and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the clams and mussels are open and the prawns are pink. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve. Set the seafood aside until cool enough to handle.

When the seafood is cool enough to handle, peel the prawns and remove the clam and mussel meat from the shells. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in the pan, add carrots, leek, onion, fennel and bacon. Cook on medium low heat for ten to twelve minutes until the vegetables are soft. Increase the heat and add reserved seafood cooking liquid, water and bay leaf. Bring to the boil.

Add potatoes and corn, reduce to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes until the potato is cooked through. Add cream and reserved prawns, clams and mussels. Stir until warmed through.

Serve scattered with thyme and parsley.

No comments:

Post a Comment