Originating in North America, fish chowder is a wonderfully flavoursome stew, with all the ingredients to provide a meal in itself. The smoked bacon and haddock add a great depth, balanced with the sweetness of the sweetcorn and flavour-absorbing potatoes.
I use my largest Le Creuset pot to make this as the shellfish take up quite a lot of room when they open. And it looks great served from the cooking pot at the table. Eat it from enamel bowls with a cold glass of real ale.
- 30g butter
- 250g smoked bacon lardons
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 corn on the cob, kernels, or 1 tin (400g) sweetcorn
- 300ml white wine
- 300ml single cream
- a small bunch of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 250g smoked haddock fillet
- 300g clams
- 300g mussels
- small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- First prepare the shellfish: throw away any shells that are open, broken or won’t close when you give them a sharp tap against the tabletop. Wash well in cold water, remove any ‘beard’ fibres from the mussels.
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy based pan on a medium heat. Fry the lardons so they become browned and crisp.
- Add the onions, carrots and celery and a good pinch of salt. Cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the vegetables soften without becoming too browned.
- Add the potatoes and sweetcorn, season with more salt and stir well.
- Pour over the wine and let it bubble and reduce by about half.
- Add the cream, thyme and bay leaf, then top up with water just to cover. Partially cover with a lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes become soft.
- When the potatoes are soft, you are ready to add the fish. Put the haddock in first, followed by the shellfish.
- Cover the pan and poach for 5-10 minutes or just until the clams and mussels open and the haddock pieces are cooked through. It won’t take long so keep and eye!
- Taste for seasoning and then scatter with chopped parsley to serve, steaming in its cooking pot.