Scallop Chowder

December 3, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

IMG_3621

When Rebecca Charles of New York’s celebrated Pearl Oyster Bar first taught me the recipe for her scallop chowder, I asked if it was possible to substitute milk for the cream. She looked at me like I was crazy. “Why would you want to do that?” she asked. Good question.

This recipe (featured in SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS, a great holiday gift!) is one of the simplest, most comforting winter foods you can possibly make. Turns out, it’s all about the cream which has the remarkable ability to take on whatever flavors you heat it up with. In dessert, that flavored mixture becomes ice cream; here it becomes chowder.

Now just because something is simple doesn’t mean that you can be careless. In fact, with simple recipes, you have to be that much more careful. Take, for example, the onions. It would be easy to brown them by cooking them too long or keeping the heat too high. For the balance of flavors in a chowder, you just want to sweat them–to draw out their flavor slowly, infusing the butter, without coloring them. That takes a good 10 minutes or so.

IMG_3614

Then, the potatoes, which once again you sweat along with the onions and a pinch of salt. This all happens very gradually.

IMG_3615

Scallops, next, and they should be cut the same size as the potatoes so they visually match as you pull up your spoon. (Season again with salt and pepper.)

IMG_3619

Now bring on the cream, a whole quart of it. (Nutritionists, shield your eyes.)

IMG_3620

What happens next is the real magic trick: that cream cooks down, concentrates, and takes on all those flavors, gradually becoming chowder. You want there to be bubbles but it can’t be at a boil. Let’s call it an active simmer. After 45 minutes, give it a taste and most likely you’ll swoon. Correct for salt and then add the secret ingredient…

IMG_3622

Pour a glug straight from the bottle (along with some thyme leaves) stir all around and taste. The Pernod imparts a very subtle, barely detectible licorice flavor that elevates everything even more. Heaven right?

Every time I make this for a crowd (and I’ve done it twice, once for paying customers!) everyone’s licking their bowls by the end. It’s your reward for dealing with cold weather. You deserve it.

Recipe: Scallop Chowder

Summary: Based on a recipe by Rebecca Charles from SECRETS OF THE BEST CHEFS

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large white Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (submerge in water until ready to use)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Pernod
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Minced fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Begin by melting the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, lowering the heat a little, until the onions soften. Take your time here (about 10 minutes or so); this is where the onions develop flavor. Just don’t let them brown.
  2. Add the potatoes to the onions, season, and cook, again, slowly, for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the scallops, season again, stir, and add enough cream until everything is covered. Bring to a simmer and cook, slowly, until the liquid reduces substantially, approximately 45 minutes.
  4. Add the Pernod–which gives everything a lovely anise flavor–and the thyme and cook a few minutes longer.
  5. Remove from the heat and either serve right away, with chives sprinkled on top, or allow the chowder to come to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. The flavors will develop if you allow for this extra step, but once you taste the chowder, you won’t be able to wait. Keeps for 3 to 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Recipes, Soups

  • Josi Denise

    Found you on BlogLovin’ – adore your site! What a unique use for scallops, I definitely have to try this :)

  • http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/ Mallory @ Because I Like Choco

    Yeah cream is pretty much a must in chowder. Milk just doesn’t cut it.

  • Adam

    Wow, I knew chowder wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world but I didn’t know it was THIS incredibly unhealthy. The broth is really ALL cream?!

  • Anonymous

    Scallops cook for 45 minutes? Is that a typo?

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Not a typo: in slowly simmering cream the scallops remain delicate.

  • Mike Robinson

    I might be from the UK but the only way to serve it is in a scooped out sourdough bread

  • Arlyn Lichthardt

    I think your question about using milk was quite appropriate. I would first make bechamel, then add enough milk to give the liquid a cream-like consistency. I think it would work. It would certainly save some money and a few calories.

  • Mike Robinson

    Yeah, but the scallops are healthy lol

  • Matthew Botsford

    nice..gonna try it..thanks for sharing friend..Merry Christmas to you..

  • joannarie

    I made this chowder for dinner last night – it is the best thing I’ve made this year! In fact, mh husband who is the pickiest eater ever, could not stop eating this. After dinner I even got a kiss! Thank you for sharing this recipe and yourself with us. (the second best thing I’ve made this year is the 5 hour ragu – although, no kiss for it.)

  • mayceegreene

    This really sounds delicious. I love scallops and can imagine how
    great they would be in this wonderful chowder. I’d love to have a bowl
    of this. Have a great day.
    Top One Way Links – for real