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chappie

Innovative chowder ideas

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I am the defending champion of an annual chowder cookoff hosted by my friend Sean at the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, Md., and am looking for a strong followup to last year's "Cornographic Crawfish" winner for February's rematch. There will be about 25 entrants, and I know people are expecting something unique. Last year I used crawfish, roasted corn, pureed and strained corn (as thickener), cream, poblano peppers, chipotle, fatback, red peppers and secret spices including a mysterious granulated shrimp product Dad brought back from a roadside stand in Vietnam last winter.

I've seen some recipes out there for Sauerkraut Chowder and was thinking of adapting this concept, but I haven't decided for sure.

Has anyone tried this chowder, or do you have any preliminary suggestions on defending my crown? I expect tougher competition this go-round, because I am again likely the lone Eastern Shore entry and I believe I wounded the locals' pride last February.

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Hi, Chappie--

I must confess that the idea of sauerkraut in a dairy-based soup/stew doesn't immediately appeal to me.

Are there any baseline rules your recipe has to adhere to in order to qualify as chowder? I mean, even among traditional chowders there's variants that have little or no dairy in them.

Off the top of my head, I thought it might be fun to come up with a Southeast Asian spin on chowder, with coconut milk (alone or in addition to dairy) in the base, lemongrass and curry spices in the seasoning, and lotsa shrimp and scallops and such. (Although, now that I think of it, given that the sour-ish lemongrass/coconut milk combo appeals to me, maybe the sour cabbage/dairy combo would too, after all ... interesting how the mind works ... )

Edited to add--oh yeah, and squid! If you decide to run with the SE Asian concept, I'd think squid could be a real stand-out ingredient.


Edited by mizducky (log)

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i ate a dill pickle chowder last year! well, it wasn't called chowder, though, it was potato, carrot, onion, cream, and.....dill pickle. with lots of fresh dill as well, and i added some dill pickle juice too!

i ran it in one of my columns, so you could go onto either www.marlenaspieler.com or sfgate.com and check out the archives. about a year ago......

x marlena


Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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Salmon or smoked salmon is always pretty as well as tasty... maybe with some finely chopped italian parsley included and a crispy fried onion or crispy fried garlic garnish?

You've got my imagination going :biggrin:

Finnian Haddie?

Purple potatoes probably woudn't make it, but it's an idea :laugh:

Kimchi chowder :unsure:


Edited by JCD (log)

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Salmon or smoked salmon is always pretty as well as tasty... maybe with some finely chopped italian parsley included and a crispy fried onion or crispy fried garlic garnish? 

You've got my imagination going  :biggrin:

Finnian Haddie?

Purple potatoes probably woudn't make it, but it's an idea  :laugh:

Kimchi chowder  :unsure:

I made lots of Finnan Haddie chowder as a student. There was a standard milk/onion/potato recipe right on the can from A&P. The cans, from Nova Scotia, and the A&P are long gone, but smoked haddock or smoked cod from the fish market would work. Even salt cod, which could be livened up with a can of red Arctic Clams, also from Nova Scotia.

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My dear grandmother made a sour kraut soup that I loved as a young child. She probably used pork neck bones to make the broth. There was also onion, carrot and probably potatoes. She liked to use lots of black pepper in her cooking but she didn't have access to very many spices. Since she had this great talent for sweet and sour soups, I would guess that this was one of them; she would have used sugar to taste. I don't remember. Then she finished the soup with the top of the milk -- heavy cream or half and half.

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Cookoff is eight days away and I still have no idea what I'm going to make. I've had requests for the same recipe I made last year, but I don't want to do a rerun. Someone told me a company in my town is selling sea scallops harvested off Ocean City, Md., in the shell, and that I might find some with roe. That would make for an interesting flavor; I did a lobster/andoille/mussel/saffron batch two years ago (was foiled by travel time and the failure to realize a crockpot wouldn't reheat it fast enough), and the tomalleys added great flavor. But I also spent a small fortune on it, which I don't want to do this time.

I'll report back on my decision.

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How about a Reuban Chowder with corned beef, sauerkraut and a rye crouton with 1000 island and swiss cheese? St. Patrick's day isn't that far off!

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With less than 48 hours until tasting, I am finally headed in a general direction. My fiancee bought two enormous lobsters the other night, so I've made stock with their carcasses. I also have a friend bringing me some packs of conpoy — a dried Asian scallop — from D.C. I'm thinking of soaking those, then using them with fresh scallops (maybe grilled, or crusted in a pan?) andouille, corn (also, perhaps grilled?) cream, thyme, etc.

From what I've read in the China forum here, the conpoy will break apart and just add flavor and perhaps a little silky texture. Instead of the fresh scallops also, I could do shrimp.

I had even toyed with the idea of collecting hundreds of periwinkles from the marsh and using them somehow, but this seems unreasonable.

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Five years later and this competition is still going strong. I won a few years back with an oyster/leek/vermouth batch, miscalculated badly the following year with saffron and had some more or less decent chowders the rest of the way.

And here we are again. Four days away and I'm undecided. There is no hard rule for seafood chowders, but I'm wondering if that is what tasters come expecting? I'm thinking of making a hamhock and white bean (Rancho Gordo of course; yellow-eye) chowder with a rich ham hock stock made with these hocks I get from the local Amish market. But again, I'm not sure. Should I go rich, rich ham hock chowder and then add oysters?

Should I make a ham hock and white bean chowder and add ... sauerkraut?

Any and all ideas or brainstorms are welcome.

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Another five-year update. My latest chowder style is to continue to work on mastering traditional techniques. I've won this contest twice in recent years with very traditional quahog chowders, and the 2016 event is coming up in two weeks. Last year I used a technique I read about on Serious Eats, where you boil the potatoes etc. in the milk and clam juice, allowing the milk to break, and then strain out the solids, re-emulsify the milk base (which now has collected potato starch) in the blender, and re-combine. That's a lot of hassle. I think this time I'll stick to heavy cream even though I prefer the flavor/texture of whole milk. Also, I'm thinking of pureeing some of the quahogs to cook in the beginning, and adding the rest at the very end. Simple seasonings, salt pork instead of bacon always, and I've gone completely away from using flour to thicken.

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Depending on the potato, you generally shouldn't need flour to thicken.

 

I've been heating heavy cream to just a simmer around the edge, then add a heaping spoonful of creme fraiche (high butter content) - stir to combine and return to simmer, then add to chowder base.  Silky goodness....

 

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"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

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Congratulations on your wins @chappie!

 

I'm just a housewife, and was interested but somewhat intimidated to give any advice to a successful contest winner, who for all I know may be a professional chef. I found it kind of sad that no one responded to your 2011 post, perhaps because they were also intimidated, so here goes anyway. :smile:

 

I agree that if your judging panel is responding to traditional approaches, that's the way to go.

 

I like to render the fat from bacon and set the bacon itself aside. Then I cook minced white onion in the smoky pork fat. I leave that in the pan. I like simmering the potatoes in just clam juice. That way you don't have to worry about your dairy breaking. To me it's not just about the texture either. It seems to taste different to me too, once it breaks. I would also be surprised if you were ever able to recover the silky creamy, texture of the dairy, no matter what you did. I'm embarrassed to admit in this thread that when I make homemade chowder, I thicken with instant potato flakes, but I sure wouldn't do that for a contest. Instead, I'd take part of my cooked potatoes and mash really well or puree. I'm with you on the no flour. The texture is gluey in comparison. I also use a small amount of good (to me) table Chardonnay, but for a contest, I would use the best white wine I could lay my hands on. Whole milk is plenty creamy to me, and I only add that after everything else is cooked, and just heat the milk up to serving temp without boiling. Probably this isn't traditional, but I like to garnish the chowder just before serving with the crispy bacon bits.

 

Interesting idea about pureeing the clams to cook from the beginning. Maybe worth a test run. Knowing how rubbery clams can become when overcooked, though, I'd worry about tiny bits of rubber marring the texture.

 

Good luck this year, and I hope some of the great cooks we have here will chime in with their ideas too.


> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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On 1/12/2006 at 10:42 AM, chappie said:

I am the defending champion of an annual chowder cookoff hosted by my friend Sean at the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, Md., and am looking for a strong followup to last year's "Cornographic Crawfish" winner for February's rematch. There will be about 25 entrants, and I know people are expecting something unique. Last year I used crawfish, roasted corn, pureed and strained corn (as thickener), cream, poblano peppers, chipotle, fatback, red peppers and secret spices including a mysterious granulated shrimp product Dad brought back from a roadside stand in Vietnam last winter.

I've seen some recipes out there for Sauerkraut Chowder and was thinking of adapting this concept, but I haven't decided for sure.

Has anyone tried this chowder, or do you have any preliminary suggestions on defending my crown? I expect tougher competition this go-round, because I am again likely the lone Eastern Shore entry and I believe I wounded the locals' pride last February.

 

On 1/12/2006 at 10:42 AM, chappie said:

I am the defending champion of an annual chowder cookoff hosted by my friend Sean at the Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, Md., and am looking for a strong followup to last year's "Cornographic Crawfish" winner for February's rematch. There will be about 25 entrants, and I know people are expecting something unique. Last year I used crawfish, roasted corn, pureed and strained corn (as thickener), cream, poblano peppers, chipotle, fatback, red peppers and secret spices including a mysterious granulated shrimp product Dad brought back from a roadside stand in Vietnam last winter.

I've seen some recipes out there for Sauerkraut Chowder and was thinking of adapting this concept, but I haven't decided for sure.

Has anyone tried this chowder, or do you have any preliminary suggestions on defending my crown? I expect tougher competition this go-round, because I am again likely the lone Eastern Shore entry and I believe I wounded the locals' pride last February.

1/2-1 T Pernod added at the end. S. France comes to your chowder.

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I happen to be the niece of Eugene Ambo, one of the original 11 founders of the Eastport Yacht club, and lived in Naptown for a few years.

 

Anyway, my advice: try beurre noisette instead of the pork fat or bacon. -if you want smokiness, add liquid smoke. It's easier to control than the randomness of bacon.

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Incidentally, this was one of my first forays back to eGullet in many years (I used to post all the time), and it's great to see that it's still going strong.

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On 3/2/2016 at 3:08 AM, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Interesting idea about pureeing the clams to cook from the beginning. Maybe worth a test run. Knowing how rubbery clams can become when overcooked, though, I'd worry about tiny bits of rubber marring the texture.

There is a video on YouTube demonstrating how the Black Pearl in Newport, R.I. makes its famous chowder. Some of the techniques they use don't appeal to me (even though I have had and enjoyed their chowder on a few occasions), like the use of flour and another kind of starch, maybe modified food starch. However, they puree half of their clams and cook the puree into their "base." I did this once with oysters -- pureed half into the base and added the rest right before service -- and won that year.

 

As usual I won't have much time to tinker between now and Saturday. I think I'll do the classic quahog I've been trying to perfect, with the addition of some pureed clams and perhaps a splash of dry vermouth. Right now the spices I use are a pinch of thyme, black pepper and smoked Spanish paprika.

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Well, the judges awarded my quahog chowder the top prize again this year in the Classic category.  It came out very nicely, except for the fact I'm still torn on the notion of a thickener. As I think I said before, when I'm making a chowder for myself, I prefer a milky, brothy background. For this competition I pureed about a third of the potatoes; while the flavor was great, I still feel the potato starch gives the chowder a grainy mouthfeel. Now I'm starting to wonder if I should experiment with a butter roux and making the chowder base a day or two in advance (rendered pork, aromatics to soften, add butter roux and then clam broth, cook to thicken, cool, refrigerate). Then, right before service at the competition, reheat the base, add chopped quahogs and dairy to just the right texture.

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Congratulations! :)

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Yes, congratulations, @chappie!  I'm so glad that you let us know how things came out.  

 

I'm not very familiar with cook-offs so if you have a moment sometime,  I'd be interested to hear more about how your chowder cook-off works.  How much do chowder do you have to make?  How long is the "service" period.  What sort of facilities (if any) are available for last-minute cooking? 

 

My only cook-off experience is limited to an annual chili cook-off at work where each entry (usually a group, working together.....in some cases, just barely xD) had to make at least 12 gallons of chili but I've seen other events where people seem to bring crock-pot sized containers so I have no idea what is the norm for cook-off events.

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Congrats!

 

You might want to experiment with pureeing various types of potatoes. Some are grittier than others.

 

Sometimes, I sneak and thicken partially with cornstarch. It has to boil then come down in temp to thicken, and doesn't reheat well, so you'd have to adjust your method. That said, it's very silky and people don't expect it in soup. I wouldn't go 100% thickening with it, but, it might give you that extra edge. That said, gelatin might also be useful for a stock-like mouthfeel.

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Congratulations on yet another win @chappie! Sounds like your traditional approach was the right one again. When you're competing, (or trying to please your guests) you have to cook to the tastes of your judges. Thanks for letting us know what happened.

 

*Doing a happy dance for you* xD


> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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On 3/5/2016 at 0:13 PM, chappie said:

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! Incidentally, this was one of my first forays back to eGullet in many years (I used to post all the time), and it's great to see that it's still going strong.

You've been missed,  @chappie 

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On 2/21/2011 at 3:42 PM, chappie said:

Five years later and this competition is still going strong. I won a few years back with an oyster/leek/vermouth batch, miscalculated badly the following year with saffron and had some more or less decent chowders the rest of the way.

And here we are again. Four days away and I'm undecided. There is no hard rule for seafood chowders, but I'm wondering if that is what tasters come expecting? I'm thinking of making a hamhock and white bean (Rancho Gordo of course; yellow-eye) chowder with a rich ham hock stock made with these hocks I get from the local Amish market. But again, I'm not sure. Should I go rich, rich ham hock chowder and then add oysters?

Should I make a ham hock and white bean chowder and add ... sauerkraut?

Any and all ideas or brainstorms are welcome.

Can you post a list of the chowders that you've entered (at least for the last 5 yrs that we missed)? 

Also if you use evaporated whole milk in your chowder, you don't have to worry about it breaking. I'm from new England originally and I don't like a heavy broth, such as the occurs when too much butter or cream is used. We traditionally thicken the broth with some of the potatoes that have been mashed and returned to the pan. I have never heard of using a roux or cornstarch to thicken the broth, that's blasphemous. :S

.I'm anxious to learn what you have submitted in the last few years and how your entries fared. 

A lot of your success, obviously, will depend upon the audience and who is judging. But for my money, a simple chowder highlighting the seafood is always my goal. And yes to the addition of dry vermouth (or dry Sherry, here in FL where conch chowder is popular) 

ETA : I just realized that you've already updated to announce that you won in the classic category. Congratulations! I would still like to see a list of the various chowders that you have submitted and the results. -  It's not too early to start planning for next year!  :D


Edited by kbjesq clarification (log)
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