Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chorizo Clam Chowder

Kitchenette vs Galley

The original, sensible plan was to…
  • book a motel close to the boatyard. Check.      
  • book a motel with a kitchenette so we wouldn’t have to eat out every meal, every day. Check.
  • eat healthy for the two or three weeks that the boat was up on the hard. Check - okay, like the boat, this one is still a work in progress. 
The motel kitchenette reminds me of the kitchen in my very first studio apartment, back in the day when I didn’t cook (or eat) much. This facility has more square footage, smaller appliances and fewer utensils. Note: no microwave and the fridge freezes everything in the produce drawer. It’s a good thing there is a mini bar fridge next to the bed to hold a few vegies. A good grocery is only half block away, through a field and across a parking lot, so it is manageable.

Oh my, how I take for granted the ease of cooking on board, surrounded by home-sized appliances and generous storage. Compared to our previous vessels, this galley is heaven. The warm glow of the cherry cabinets and the ever-changing views out the windows also contribute a lot to the enjoyment. 

It’s been a week of challenges, with some ingredients at the motel, and my spices, mixing bowls and favorite pans and knives on the boat. We can eat breakfast and lunch on board, but any dirty dishes go the motel each evening for washing up. After two weeks, it is becoming routine.

The biggest challenge has been cooking simple or one-pot meals in the evening. Now it really feels like I could be living the life in that studio apartment of old! 

A search through the boat cabinets and freezer last week yielded some frozen chorizo, a variety of spices and a few cans of clams. With some onions, potatoes, parsley and dairy from the grocery, the chowder almost made itself. The recipe was a riff off of Julia Child’s New England Chowder, my usual go-to recipe when I have fresh seafood. Julia might not recognize or claim this version, but it was popular in my kitchenette.

Chorizo and Clam Chowder 
very loosely based on New England Chowder, From Julia Child’s Kitchen. 

2 or 3 links of Spanish chorizo sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chunked
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups fish stock or chicken stock or clam juice (or a combination)
several boiling potatoes, chunked
1/4 teaspoon thyme or sage
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper
Salt as needed (none, if clam juice is used)

2 large cans clams
1+ cups milk or half and half
Sour cream
Fresh croutons, cut large, toasted & tossed in butter, salt & pepper
Handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley

Saute the chorizo for several minutes over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan; brown very lightly and render its fat. Add the onions and peppers; stirring frequently, cook until tender but not browned. Pour the sausage and vegetables into a sieve set over a bowl to drain out the fat, then return them to the pan. Blend in the flour, adding a bit of the pan drippings if the mixture is stiff; cook slowly for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; remove from the heat. Vigorously blend in he how water to incorporate all of the flour; beat in the stock (or clam juice), blending thoroughly. Add the potatoes, herbs, pepper and salt(if using). Boil slowly until potatoes are just tender.

Add the clams, then pour in the milk - it tends to curdle if added sooner. Let it come to a simmer, then taste and correct seasonings. (I added some green tabasco at this point)

Ladle chowder into big soup plates, top each with several large croutons, a big blop of sour cream, and sprinkle the parsley over all.

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