I've just come in from a dripping and sodden garden. A necessary job which involved tipping a split bag of farmyard manure all over the newly created border. Not especially pleasant. We've got a new unwelcome visitor: a largish town fox seems to have latched onto us at night. It's already been inside the house; but was scared off by our brave, feisty little Burmese, Oskie, at about three o' clock in the morning. You should have heard the noise. Cat shrieks and Fox barks. Like Banshees. Terrifying. And I have to tell you, this critter is the size of an Alsatian. Last night, it ripped open several bags of manure in the garden- I woke up to a a scene of carnage. Hence the urgency. And it's cold. And wet. And extremely gloomy. One way of coping with the sudden autumn chill is with my sudden obsession with chowder. Hot creamy, chunky, savoury, buttery chowder.
I had a sweetcorn chowder at Brunswick House Café the other day- and I'm now interested in the idea of using puréed sweetcorn as a thickening agent. I think this would work well. The Brunswick House chowder was also laced with Lea & Perrins- far too much of the stuff in my opinion. It was almost insane. Several large tablespoons, I reckon. Luckily, I love L & P, and so cope, up to a point- but I suspect others would have had a nasty surprise. It was all slighty strange.
This is how I would make a chowder. I think with this particular dish, there's going to be room for experimentation and ideas. The first step would be to chop up some smoked bacon or pork and fry in butter. Next, I'd add some chopped onions and chopped celery and fry in the buttery bacon fat until soft. Then I'd pour in some fish stock and drop in a bayleaf.
You could experiment using various ingredients as a thickening agent. Crushed saltine crackers would be authentic. Creamed sweetcorn might be another idea. Or grated potato perhaps? You would stir the thickening agent (whatever it is) into the stock. (An alternative method would be to cook the thickening agent in the butter before adding the stock). I'd include some diced potato and diced carrots, and a good dollop of single cream and/or milk.
Finally, the chowder would be finished off with finely chopped flat leaf parsley or chervil, (which with its subtle tarragon flavour might work even better); seasoned with white pepper and a knob of butter whisked in at the final moment. What do you think?