Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crab Bacon Chowder with Anise Seed and Thyme

I read several online recipes for crab chowder, looking for just the right combination of ingredients to enhance my crab stock and the leftover crab we saved to put in it. They all sounded good but none was a home run; that always puts me into invention mode.

Here are the ingredients I used:

3 rashers bacon, crisped and coarsely chopped
2 Tbs of bacon fat reserved from cooking the bacon
1 small onion, chopped finely
1 large shallot, ditto
2 celery ribs, ditto
6-8 fingerling potatoes, cut in small dice
2 tsp. fresh thyme (use less if using dried herb)
2 tsp-1 Tbs. fennel seeds
4 cups crab stock
2 ears fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Dungeness crab meat
Pepper to taste (I'd wait on the salt until you see how salty the bacon and crab are)

First, I crisped the bacon, set it aside and drained off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan before saute-ing a finely chopped onion, two ribs of chopped celery and a large shallot in the same pan. I added about half a cup of finely chopped fingerling potatoes and tossed them until coated, adding about 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme from my herb garden and about 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds which Cookiecrumb had taught me are delicious. I cooked those ingredients until the spuds were hot and a little soft, then added the crab stock and simmered until the potatoes were easily pierced. I added three of the bacon strips (next time, I'd use two more to crumble into the soup just before serving), chopped coarsely back into the pan with the kernels of two ears of fresh corn (by the way, I learned a great way to cut corn from the cob - stand the stem end of the corn in the hole in the middle of a bundt pan and cut down the cob with a sharp paring knife - all the kernels will fall into the pan - no mess!). I simmered that briefly before adding about 1 1/2 cups of half and half (you could use heavier cream for a richer taste but I thought the bacon was sin enough), and added about half a cup of picked, coarsely chopped crab meat. I heated it through without boiling, ladled it into soup cups and sprinkled it with a little parsley. Adding the cream turned it from evil brown to toasty white - much more appetizing!

It was wonderful the first day but even better on day two. Makes about 6 servings.


Blogger Dagny said...

Why do I suddenly feel like I have died and gone to heaven? Except I don't have any of the chowder. I guess I could pull out that can of she-crab soup from the cabinet but somehow it just doesn't seem the same.

Monday, October 29, 2007  
Blogger Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Oh my~ that looks so yummy! Clam chowder is a favorite, this can only be better.
I will be saving this for a cold night.

Monday, October 29, 2007  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I loved the look on your face when you bit into your first fennel seed ever. Priceless!
(Pick them and bring them in the house before the rains, so you'll have some all winter.)
Very impressed by your soup improvisation. So much more robust than my effete bisque.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Dagny, sometimes I start with a can of soup and improvise from there - how about she-crab soup with some sherry, onions, fennel?

Sandi, love your picture logo - the soup spelling "yummy!"

Cookiecrumb, I expected the anise flavor but not the intense sweetness - big surprise! I will definitely be harvesting soon! Funny, I've been trying to discourage that plant for five years and finally gave up and just decided to see what it would do this year - it went "bananas!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007  

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