After a period of slackness (Brenda being very familiar with this concept already…), I decided to kick this week off with a creamy, easy-to-prepare, and of course delicious, chowder.
There are many variants on which main ingredients can be added – I happened to have a couple of frozen salmon fillets and a handful of raw prawns lurking at the back of the freezer so this was a great way to use them – gentle, blanketing heat bringing out the best flavour and texture in delicate ingredients. You wouldn’t always swamp absolutely fresh, caught-this-morning prawns, or the firmest spanking fresh fish in a milky sauce, though if you have them, then great!
By the way, I used ham stock which might seem unusual in a fish dish but many recipes call for smoked bacon (cured pork products and seafood have a long history together – like Brenda and me) so, despite having some bacon available, I decided to leave it out and try the ham stock instead. We think it worked, but please don’t worry if you don’t have it, just use chicken or fish stock instead. It’s up to you if you want to fry up 75g or so of bacon with the onions.
Ingredients (serves 4)
300g salmon – cut into bite-size chunks
200g raw prawns, shelled and deveined
400ml ham stock
400ml full cream milk
100ml double cream
500g potatoes (which is about 3 medium size spud) – cut into bite-size chunks
1 extra large Spanish onion (or 2 medium ones) – chopped medium
1 clove garlic – finely chopped
2 corn on the cob – run your knife down the uncooked cobs to cut the kernels off – or use a small tin of sweetcorn
100g French beans – topped, tailed and cut into 2cm long sections
pinch of ground mace
pinch of cayenne
40g butter (40g is about a heaped tablespoon)
25g flour (25g is about a heaped tablespoon)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 lemon – juiced
small bunch fresh parsley – roughly chopped
1) Heat a little olive oil in a medium size saucepan over a moderate flame and saute the chopped onion for 8-10 mins, stirring regularly, until translucent and beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and butter for the last minute or two and after the butter has melted, the flour – cook for a final minute or so.
2) Meanwhile microwave your stock till virtually boiling (or boil the kettle and make up the stock, if using a cube) and add fairly gradually to the pan once the flour’s cooked off. Stir to ensure thorough mixing and then tumble in the cubed potatoes – add the mace and cayenne plus a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Add the milk, bring up to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
3) After 10 mins or so, the potatoes should be mostly cooked and you can now add the sweetcorn (if using fresh – add later, with the beans, if using tinned). Also gently fold in the cubes of salmon.
4) Allow to simmer for another 5 mins, then fold in the prawns and beans and simmer for a further 2 mins – the prawns turn from grey to pink.
5) Now add the lemon juice and a handful of chopped parsley, stir gently through and bring just back to simmer then switch off and serve, with a final sprinkle of fresh parsley.