I’ve been getting a little sucked in to other people’s summer vacations. As I write this, someone is Instagramming either a lobster roll, a beach photo, or a big fat ice cream cone against a scenic backdrop.
When I look at these photos, I crave these experiences for myself. If only I could drop everything and drive to that lobster shack (no traffic, please!), sit on the beach and finish off the day at a wooden picnic table with a mound of ice cream piled impractically high on a sugar cone.
It wouldn’t be impossible, but the summer fantasy I’m describing would require a lot of good fortune from the weather—not to mention, a pile of cash and paper napkins to keep me fed and clean. It’d have to be a special occasion.
Luckily, there are ways to savor summer, even when we’re not celebrating special occasions. Sometimes we just need to stay put, so instead of taking you to the lobster shack, I’m going to share a recipe for a summer fish chowder with sweet corn on the cob. You can make it at home and allow its flavors to transport you to the summer fantasy of your choosing. Or, because it holds up so well, you can pack it in a thermos and eat it at the park, or the playground, or your favorite picnic spot.
The chowder’s base is a savory fish bone broth—the newest addition to Five Way Foods‘ bone and veggie broth lineup. I have a huge fondness for this particular broth because I grew up in a family that turned fish heads and bones into soups, couscous and pasta dishes. Its light, subtle flavor is comforting to me—as is the notion that I don’t need to run my stockpot if I want a meal that requires fish stock. I’ve mentioned before how rare it is to find a reliably tasty broth at the grocery store, so it’s a big deal to me to have a solid option on hand—especially during these 90-degree days we’ve been having.
To keep the chowder simple, I’ve loaded it up with the usual suspects (nearly all of which can be found locally during the summer season): fresh fish, onion, potatoes, and a hit of beer and rich heavy cream. There’s corn, too—only I leave it on the cob so you can dig in for a sweet, juicy bite between spoonfuls. For a little extra flair and freshness, I serve the chowder with fresh herbs and crispy pancetta. A little freshly ground pepper doesn’t hurt, either.
The whole meal takes just one pot and feeds six people in one go. It makes excellent leftovers too, so don’t be afraid to pop it in the fridge and serve it the next time your Instagram feed blows up with visions of summer.
As for dessert, you may want to add ice cream to your grocery list. By cooking at home and eating nearby, you’re guaranteed to save on food, tolls, parking and gas—which, to me, is worth a reward.
Enjoy the rest of your summer whether you’re traveling or not—and please, Instagram this chowder if it finds its way to your table!
With a flavorful fish bone broth as its base, this chowder is light in consistency with fresh fish, creamy potatoes, sweet summer corn, and a bit of beer and heavy cream to bring them all together. To make a hearty summer meal of it, serve the chowder with ice-cold lemonade (or beer) and a fresh, crusty loaf of bread.
I was surprised to see that whenever I used red onion in this recipe, the chowder turned a murky gray color as it sat. To keep the chowder creamy white, use white or yellow onion.
1 1/2 lbs fresh hake, haddock or cod
2 16-oz bottles Five Way Foods fish bone broth
2 cups yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 3/4 medium onion)
1 1/2 lbs red skinned potatoes, cut into rough chunks
4 ears of corn, cut crosswise into quarters
4 oz diced pancetta (or bacon, if you prefer)
1 12-oz bottle India pale ale
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
coarsely chopped parsley leaves, for garnishing
coarsely chopped chives, for garnishing
freshly ground black pepper, for garnishing
- Cut the fish into 2-inch chunks. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Place the olive oil and pancetta over low heat in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Slowly cook and stir the pancetta for about 10 minutes, or until it has crisped up and released all of its fat.
- Remove the pancetta from the pot with a slotted spoon. You will need 2 1/2 tbsp of fat remaining in the pot. If the pancetta did not render that amount, add a little extra olive oil. If it rendered too much, remove a little until you have the 2 1/2 tbsp.
- Add the onions to the fat. Stir them around for about 2 minutes. When the sizzling dies down, raise the heat to medium-high and sauté for an additional 3 minutes to allow the onions to soften a bit.
- Add the potatoes, salt, thyme and bay leaf to the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the potatoes from sticking.
- Add the flour to the onions and potatoes and continue to sauté the mixture for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. A little browning is good at this point.
- Pour the beer and fish broth in with the vegetables. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the dutch oven to release any brown bits of flavor.
- Cover the dutch oven for about 15-20 minutes. During this time the liquid will come to a solid simmer and begin cooking the potatoes.
- Open the lid and simmer the vegetables and liquid for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are creamy and tender. You can check by pulling a chunk out of the broth and cutting it in half.
- Stir in the fish and corn. Cover the pot and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to steam for an additional 5 minutes. The fish should be white and opaque, and the corn should be bright yellow with a slight crunch.
- Uncover the pot, remove the bay leaf, and gently stir in the heavy cream. The fish will break down into smaller bite-sized chunks.
- Serve the chowder with the parsley, chives, crispy pancetta bits and freshly ground black pepper.
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