Friday, February 24, 2012

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Oyster Chowder.

The Hawthornes finished off their third bushel of oysters last night with Oyster Chowder, courtesy of Mr. Hawthorne.
When you make an oyster chowder, please do not skimp on the oysters. These oysters were on the small size and we used up what was left in the burlap bag. They do have a shelf life, you know. Mr. Hawthorne figgers about 100 oysters. Yes. 100. I'm serious. Since Mr. Hawthorne had an injured and bandaged hand and I didn't feel like shucking all of those oysters, he put them all in a big pot and steamed them until they were just starting to open. Then they were easily shuckable.
Every spoonful contained several oysters.
And now, for the method. Notice I'm not giving you the mise en place here. And I'm not giving you a recipe. Mr. Hawthorne is just cooking on the fly. Once you know the method, the "recipes" are endless. Consider my giving you the method kinda like giving you the keys to the kitchen. You have the keys now, so you can drive where ever you want. You can switch out ingredients, combine different flavors, use different, but appropriate, seasonings ... you know ... cook.
First, Mr. Hawthorne fried up 3 chopped up slices of bacon over medium heat. The bacon will impart a nice smoky layer to the chowder.
While the bacon was frying, Mr. Hawthorne added in peeled, finely-diced carrots and potatoes.
And some chopped celery. Stir around until bacon is browned. Look at your pieces of vegetables. They should be all the same size.
When the bacon bits had browned ...
... he added in about 3 cups of clam juice.
Season with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste and bring to a simmer.
Next he added in around 1/3 cup of heavy cream. The way I think about it, the more cream, the merrier, so if you'd like more, go for it. Taste test.
Reduce heat to low and let the chowder barely simmer.
In another small pan, Mr. Hawthorne made a roux. A roux is simply equal parts butter and flour cooked. It's going to be used to thicken our chowder. First he melted about 1/2 stick butter.
Then he sprinkled an equal amount of flour (4 TB) into the melted butter.
Swirl for about two minutes over medium low heat to cook the flour.
Taste to be sure the flour is cooked. You don't want raw flour.
Next he added a little of the clam juice to the roux.
And he added the roux to the chowder.
Stir and heat to thicken.
He added some of the shiitaki mushrooms he grew.
Here's another tip for thickening a soup. You can also use an instant blend flour, like Wondra, to thicken your chowder. Wondra will not clump when you add it to your dish, as regular flour will. I prefer the roux, myself. The flour is cooked.
Oysters in. Care to count? Just heat through. You cannot undercook an oyster, but you sure can overcook it, making it tough, dry, and unpleasant.
Num yummy. Would you look at that? He sneaked some corn in the chowder while I wasn't watching.
I added fresh scallions and parsley and oyster crackers.
Excellent oyster chowder, Mr. Hawthorne.
Dare we get a fourth bushel?


zzzadig said...

Yes, That's right, I hate you.

Corn, perfect!

Now a little nutmeg, and believe it or not, a splash of good scotch.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Zzzadig, I love it when you hate me.

I usually put a little nutmeg in and I happen to like a splash of sherry too, but this was Mr. Hawthorne's party.

I might have to try the scotch. Interesting.