By Tommy Thompson
Options abound for this cool weather dish.
This rich, cream- and corn-based chowder is a meal in itself, and really doesn’t need a side dish other than some bread, like buttered biscuits—and maybe a cold glass of dry chardonnay or pilsner beer.
Seafood Corn Chowder
- 2 ears or 2 cups fresh-frozen corn
- 2 cups diced potatoes (Russet, red or Yukon Gold)
- ½ stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- ½ large onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 pound shrimp, scallops, cooked lobster meat or crab meat
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut corn kernels from cobs, if necessary. Peel and dice your potatoes. Dice your other vegetables. In a large stockpot, melt the butter over high heat, add the peppers and onions, Creole seasoning and cook until soft. Then add the potatoes and stock and cook over medium heat until potatoes are fork-tender. Stir in the corn, red pepper flakes and heavy cream and cook over low heat another five minutes. Finally, stir in your seafood. If you use shrimp or scallops, three or four minutes is adequate time to cook them. Shrimp cooked into pink “C’s” are perfect; those overcooked into “O’s” are not. Previously cooked lobster meat or pasteurized crabmeat just needs to be warmed up. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Cooking and serving a bowl of hot chowder involves choices. Using fresh, or fresh-frozen, corn is a good start for a chowder featuring seafood. But there’s another consideration to make before you leave the supermarket. While the corn adds a distinctive flavor to your chowder, it’s potatoes that bind all the ingredients and give it texture. Baking, or Russet, potatoes make your chowder more creamy, while red or Yukon Gold spuds create a more chunky dish. It’s all up to you.
And then there’s your choice of seafood. To me, it’s all about availability, with fresh Florida shrimp topping my list, sometimes in union with some blue crab meat. But winter chowder also offers the opportunity to mine the freezer for packages of bay scallops or lobster tails, hidden from view since last season. I’ve even made it with stone crab claw meat that was picked, vacuum-bagged and frozen the previous season. Now that’s luxury! FS
First Published Florida Sportsman January 2016