Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CHOWDER SEASON: A Spicy Red Crab Recipe for the Soul

It’s chowder season again, and I am reminded of a crisp weekend in December some years ago when I was visiting the tiny historic seaside town of New Castle, Delaware, to attend a Colonial holiday party at The Arsenal for which I was to be a guest of honor. I had arrived early for the event with hours to spare, and so I took to the sidewalk to reflect upon the year’s events. Among the quiet bustle of mid-afternoon visitors and the distant melody of a young fife and drum corps playing Christmas carols, I decided to check into a cozy little gift shop where I was instantly called by the aroma of a spicy red crab chowder, the likes of which I had never seen nor tasted before. It was served piping hot, and the Old Bay spice was like medicine for the soul on that cold autumn day. I had begged several store clerks for the recipe, but it was almost as if the soup had appeared by magic in their tureen because no one seemed to know the answer. Returning home that weekend, I set out to reproduce what, to me, still stands as the most satisfying red chowder I have ever tasted.

This is the closest I have ever come. Enjoy!

Makes 4 quarts

2 Quarts seafood stock
1 Quart stewed tomatoes
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 large onion, minced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
12 ounces baby corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
12 ounces lump crab meat (2 - 6oz. cans)
10 ounces cut green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour 2 quarts seafood stock and 1 quart stewed tomatoes in large stock pot. Add 4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning.

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter in a separate pan and add minced onions until onions take on a translucence. Turn off burner and add 2 tablespoons of flour to butter and onions until all the butter is absorbed into the flour. Add mixture to stock.

Add 12 ounces baby corn kernels, 12 ounces lump crab meat (drained), and 10 ounces of cut beans to stock pot.

Simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Chowder is done when beans are tender.

Pack this chowder in a thermos for a chilly fall picnic. You won’t regret it!
Serve piping hot!

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