Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The BEST Seafood Chowder Is My Christmas Present To You

We have a favorite Sabo family Christmas tradition that dates back to when the number of our kids was in the single digits, which is approximately the 2002 or 2003 time frame. It's soup. But not just any soup. This is a seafood chowder that the family looks forward to waaaaaayyyyy more than opening Christmas presents. Sort of. Maybe. Ish? Okay, so my seafood chowder takes a close second to the whole opening Christmas presents thing. But don't let that dissuade you from breaking out the heavy-bottomed stock pot and giving this seafood chowder a whirl in your kitchen. You will not be disappointed. I promise.

I found this recipe in The Oregonian and it's called "Portland Seafood Chowder." It makes 10 cups, which means I automatically double it. Or so. And I've modified it by adding more seafood to the point that basically if it swims, or crawls, or scampers, or filters in saltwater, it goes in this chowder. As a disclaimer, due to the nature of the ingredients it's an expensive soup to make. Which is why we only make it once a year. Which is also why I'm seriously considering launching separate Kickstarter and Gofundme campaigns to support our seafood chowder habit so that we can enjoy it more than once a year.

Without further ado, we give you the "Portland Seafood Chowder" recipe in all its gastronomical glory. Go forth and be a Pacific Northwest foodie aficionado.

12 oz. diced raw bacon
1 1/3 C finely diced onion
1 1/3 C finely diced carrot
1 1/3 C finely diced celery
1/2 C diced roasted red bell peppers
1 1/2 t dried dill weed
1 1/2 t dried basil
1 1/2 t dried marjoram
1 1/2 t cajun spice mix
3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 C lightly hopped ale
1 10-oz. can baby clams
2 8-oz. bottles clam juice
4 C diced raw potatoes
6 to 8 fresh mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1/4 lb. cubed firm white fish such as snapper or cod
1/4 lb. smoked salmon, flaked
1 C whipping cream
salt & pepper to taste

* Among the seafoody items I add with liberality (one of the few times in my life I'm a liberal):
crab meat
baby shrimp

In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, cook the bacon over medium-low until it is brown. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium-low heat until the carrots are almost tender. Add red peppers.

Stir in the dill weed, basil, marjoram and cajun spice mix. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add the ale, the juice from the clams (reserve the drained clams for later), and the bottled clam juice. Stir until smooth and then add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the mussels, white fish, smoked salmon, reserved clams and any other additional seafood, cover and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mussels are opened and the white fish is done. Discard any mussels that do not open. Stir in the whipping cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Merry Christmas!

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