Sunday, November 1, 2015

Corn & Cod Chowder

I'm allergic to shellfish unfortunately, so trying things like fish chowder and many other dishes just isn't possible for me in a restaurant most of the time. Reason being that fish stock is often made with the bones and carcasses of not only fish, but also with the shells of crustaceans. Though I could've chosen to make my own fish stock and it's entirely possible that I may do so the next time I have a fish skeleton laying around, it occurred to me that I could just use vegetable stock made with a cube. It was easy, convenient and it worked beautifully. 

This corn & cod chowder is absolutely delicious and simple enough to whip up anytime. Because the fish used in this recipe is frozen, it's easy to have on hand for times when only a thick and hearty soup will do. You could of course use fresh fish if you'd prefer and if cod is not readily available to you, another boneless, skinless, flaky white fish alternative would work. As for the corn, fresh or tinned corn could also work - whatever you have on hand. It's important, in my opinion not to get too caught up in the ingredients of this recipe. If it's easier to chop up large potatoes than new potatoes, it may slightly alter the taste, but it won't be bad - simply different. If you only have 350g of fish or if the bag you buy has 500g instead of 475g, don't worry. Work with what you have and simply use the below as a guide. Just be sure to have fun making it and enjoy the fruits of your labor when you've finished.

 Serves 4 − 6… 

1 tablespoon regular olive oil
80g pancetta cubes
3 leeks, white parts only finely chopped
25g unsalted butter
1 litre low-sodium vegetable stock
350g new potatoes
1 tablespoon plain flour
350g frozen sweetcorn
475g frozen cod fillets, thawed
100ml double cream
Handful of fresh chives
Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges (optional)

1. In a large, heavy wok, frying pan or flame-proof casserole, heat the oil on medium and fry the pancetta until crisp and bronze, stirring occasionally. When it's ready, remove the pancetta cubes with a slotted spoon, reserving the oil in the pan and set aside.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the butter to the pan, melting and stirring to combine with the hot oil left behind. Add the chopped leeks and cook gently, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes until soft.  

3. When the leeks are soft add the vegetable stock, stirring to combine the mixture and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil.

4. While you're waiting for the stock to boil, quarter the new potatoes. If you're using quite large new potatoes, you'll want to cut them smaller so that they're no bigger than about 1inch chunks. Add the potatoes to the broth and stir. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes so the potatoes can begin to cook through.

5. Remove 6 tablespoons of the hot broth from the pan and mix it together with 1 tablespoon of plain flour with a wire whisk until smooth. Return the smooth, white broth mixture to the pan and stir to combine. 

6. Add the sweetcorn which will cool down the mixture. Continue cooking until it starts to bubble again, then reduce heat and simmer for a minute or two.

7. Meanwhile, chop the fish pieces into bite-sized pieces. Add to the soup and stir to combine. Continue to cook, making sure the fish is fully cooked and the potatoes are soft all the way through before proceeding to the next step.

8. Stir in the cream, add the cooked pancetta and snip in the chives. You're looking for about 13g of very finely snipped chives here if you want to be specific. I typically buy a bunch at the store and hold it tight in my hand, snipping the ends with scissors until I've cut half of it into the chowder, but you can of course use more or less to taste. I tend to stop when I see just the right scattering of green in the soup - for me, the chives are as much about appearance as flavor. Season to taste with sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper and continue to cook & stir for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

9. Serve piping hot with lemon wedges (optional) if desired.

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