It's all about the bird this week, my friends. The unspoken secret that many of us carry around is that we don't really care for turkey. For those that fall into that camp, Thanksgiving is the only time that they must face the beastly bird. Or do they? Our old friend, Howie - he of the Famous Tomato Vegetable Soup, comes to the rescue and gives us two versions of seafood chowder - a white one to one to suit the purists who insist that a white base is the only proper vehicle for fish, and a red one for those who are advanturous and want zip to their chowder. Give up the turkey and start your own holiday tradition - oh, wait - didn't the Pilgrims have fish on their harvest table, too? Then we're right in style here with Howie's Smoked Trout and Crab Chowder
Dear Soup Lady,
It's me, Howie, again. I'm going to attempt to document this recipe from memory since:
1) My old PC is beyond hope (and I know it's on there!)
2) There is little chance of finding it elsewhere.
3) I may become senile someday and the recipe will go over to Disneyland with me! So here goes:
If you can catch one and filet it, best you can get! If you have a favorite fish monger and can get fresh rainbow trout, secondbest you can get. If you can't get trout (of any sort), get something similar as long as it isfresh! If you have one of those rangetop smokers, GOOD! If you have a BBQ and know how to smoke fish on it, GOOD! If you have neither and no one else will smoke the fish for you, BAD! Smoke the fish. Type of wood... Well, some people swear on alder or cherry. Me, I like hickory or mesquite. To each is/her own.
Part two:Obtain good lump crabmeat.
If you can catch blueclaw crabs (like the old Marylanders I knew used to do), GREAT! If you can GET fresh blueclaw crabs, EXCELLENT! If you want to order from places like legal seafood, YIPPEE! If you can get decent crabmeat somewhere, OK! If you haveta use the canned, jarred, supermarket stuff, well, so be it.
Part three: Got good ham and/or bacon? Good! I like to crisp good bacon, get rid of the drippings, and put it aside but I also love black forest ham chunks in my chowder. Chunk up some good ham and put that aside or use both! The other option is salt pork but to be honest, I've never used it. So if you are familiar with utilizing it for soup, go right ahead....
Part four: Soup pot... large... like 6 quarts... on stove with about, um, 29 ounces of water (I got that from my other recipe. It just sounds right!) Bring to simmer. Add diced potatoes, celery, onions, and if you like mushrooms, have at it. Oh, and garlic.
(Type of each, amounts, etc... wing it! We wanna be able to enjoy the smoked fish taste and the delicate taste of crab so let's not overpower them with too much garlic and onions. I like elephant garlic for this soup. Maybe a clove or wo diced or crushed.A vadalia onion, which is a sweeter onion, is good for this ecipe as opposed to a sharper onion. Stick with milder types of mushrooms as ell. White, button but not portobello or other "stronger" types. THIS IS DELICATE STUFF!)
You will see in a while that you will be making a decision shortly. Do I want white or red chowder??? At this point, if you know you want red, add diced carrots. If you want white, no further action required at this moment.
Simmer covered for an hour. Add two bottles of clam juice. I use Doxsee and I do not know the size. It's little bottles. It's about a cup.
Spices/herbs (regardless of if you are making red or white):
1/4-1/2 tsp. white or black pepper. White seems to be better for white soup. 2 tsps each oregano, parsley, thyme. 1 tsp dill. Cover and simmer for another hour.
Part five: Lowest flame:
Put in the fish in small pieces as well as the crab. Try to be careful with
bones cause no one likes a mouthful of bones when they enjoy soup! And trout tend to have little ones!! (P.S. I have substituted red snapper instead of trout and even added some red pepper flakes for the red version.... OH I'M DYING!!!)
Are you the Manhattan chowder type? Diced tomatoes. A couple of 14.5 oz cans or a large can. I like the Italian diced tomatoes myself. I also like to add hot sauce at this point if making red. Yourchoice on that. A few bay leaves goes well in the red version.
Are you the New England chowder type? Instead of tomatoes, use about 1 1/2 cups of half and half, stir in 1/2 tsp butter, and then stir in 1 p of flour.
It may seem wrong to make the red version with fish and crab but I like it either way. Some people like to add wine to this recipe. I did not care for the combination of half and half and chardonnay, but you may try it to see ow you feel about it. I also have yet to find a red wine that is delicate enough to enhance the red version. Experiment if you desire!
We don't want to kill the fish, crab or destroy the creaminess if making the white version, so, stir as you add these ingredients, keep the flame low, and allow to slowly simmer for about 10-15 minutes tops. Enough to incorporate the fish/crab into the soup.
That's it. To the best of my memory. I hope someone out there tries this! It's much more work then I like to do but it is so worth it!! If you haven't determined this about me yet, I never add salt while cooking! If you want, try sea salt to your taste. I have added sea salt when I'm eating this and it seems to go well with the theme of fish chowder.