Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Tasty Sabo Christmas Tradition: Amazing Seafood Chowder

The finished product: So bon appetit!
It happens every year. Christmas rolls around and we open presents and the kids start playing with the toys, or reading books they got, or doing a puzzle, or eating voluminous amounts of candy -- this year we took all the candy we got and loaded into a large mixing bowl for a "candy stew" to pick from -- and then the real tradition gets underway.

I start preparing our beloved "Portland Seafood Chowder" that I fished out of a story from The Oregonian recipe in the early 2000s. It takes a couple of hours but it is oh so worth it. If you like seafood, if you like chowder, if you like food, if you like to eat and if you have any taste buds at all you will devour this chowder.

Do you like bacon? It's in there. Here's photographic proof:
Bacon is in the chowder. That means it's good.

Do you like smoked salmon? How about Chesapeake Bay jumbo lump blue crab? Do you like seafood in general? You'll like this chowder. Here's proof:
Key ingredients: Things of the salty saltwater.
The recipe doesn't call for everything I throw into my version of Portland Seafood Chowder. I admit, I get really aggressive with my ingredients. My philosophy with this chowder is that more is better. That plays out in two ways. First off, I figure that if it had saltwater coursing through its veins at one point -- er, whatever saltwater courses through when it comes to shrimp, oysters, crab and the like -- then it's good enough for my chowder. More is also better when it comes to servings. I figure New Year's Day is right around the corner and I can start cutting back and "exercising" and "dieting" at that point. Until then it is "bottoms up baby" when it comes to my chowder.

There's also one really key point I want to make when you are fixing this chowder. It's something I've had to learn over the years. When you break out the smoked salmon to add to the chowder, try really hard not to scarf it all down before it gets into the heavy bottom stock pot. It takes an extraordinary amount of discipline, but you can resist eating every last flaky bit of smoked salmon before it goes into the pot. I believe in you!

My kids absolutely love this chowder and it's a tradition my family looks forward to every year. It's an investment for sure -- the ingredients aren't exactly as cheap as canned tuna, if you know what I mean -- but well worth it. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Portland Seafood Chowder
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 seafood 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.

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