We love Chowder and this is a great one.
Chowder is very basic and cooked simply. Today’s recipe consists of the basic elements of potatoes and onions, pork, milk, and cream. It follows the recipe that has made New England famous for its chowders. But instead of the traditional clams, like Midwestern and Southern chowders, corn is used in this version of the dish. The only surprise here is the scallops. They kick the dish up a sophisticated notch. But first I had to ask some questions at www.seafood.org. Regular readers will know this is the first place we go to answer any doubts we have about all the seafood we serve.
Farmed Scallops using bottom culture methods are a “Best Choice”.
According to Seafood Watch, Scallop Farming is a sustainable practice and the scallops that are farmed are identical to native species. I bought mine at Whole Foods after reading about their seafood standards. “All the seafood in our Seafood Department is Responsibly farmed…We don’t sell cloned or genetically modified seafood”. The statement goes on to say “Our seafood is traceable to farm or fishery, and we work hard to source it only from responsibly managed farms … Year after year, we’re recognized by Greenpeace for our rigorous seafood sustainability practices.”
Is Chowder the first all-American dish?
The word “chowder” is believed to have from the French “chaudiere” which is a large cooking pot often used on both sides of the English Channel. Settlers from both England and France are credited with introducing this country to the dish. Their versions used fish. Clams and oysters were what native Americans made to use theirs. In Waverly Root and Richard de Rochemont’s “Eating in America”(1981) the authors made the point that the Pilgrims ‘did not care much for fish, except eels.’ They went on to point out that fish “chowders” have been cooked along every coast in the world. They were unwilling to give the native Americans credit for introducing chowder to Europeans. They went on to write ‘it is on record that in the 1620s the Pilgrims fed clams and mussels to their hogs with the explanation that they were ‘the meanest of God’s blessings’”.
The first and oldest-known printed fish chowder recipe was in the Boston Evening Post on September 23,1751. And here it is…in rhyme!
First lay some Onions to keep the Pork from burning
Because in Chouder there can be not turning;
Then lay some Pork in slices very thin,
Thus you in Chouder always must begin.
Next lay some Fish cut crossways very nice
Then season well with Pepper, Salt, and Spice;
Parsley, Sweet-Marjoram, Savory, and Thyme,
Then Biscuit next which must be soak’d some Time.
Thus your Foundation laid, you will be able
To raise a Chouder, high as Tower of Babel;
For by repeating o’er the Same again,
You may make a Chouder for a thousand men.
Last a Bottle of Claret, with Water eno; to smother ’em,
You’ll have a Mess which some call Omnium gather ’em.
Here is today’s recipe followed by some other “Chowders” you may like.
Corn Chowder with Bacon and Scallops
A hearty chowder that's filled with potatoes, onions, and creamy corn topped off with both bacon and glorious sea scallops.
- 6 ounces thickly sliced bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
- 15 ounces frozen corn, thawed (3 cups)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for garnish
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound medium sea scallops
- Step 1 In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderately low heat until crisp, 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and reserve. Add the onion and celery to the pan. Cook over low heat until softened, 12 minutes.
- Step 2 Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree 1 cup of corn with 1 cup of milk. Add the corn puree to the saucepan along with the remaining 2 cups each of corn and milk and the potatoes. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, chives, and reserved bacon. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
- Step 3 In a large skillet, heat the reserved 2 tablespoons of bacon fat until shimmering. Add the scallops, season with salt and pepper, and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Ladle the soup into bowls
- Step 4 top with the scallops and chives and serve.