If you love seafood, this is an elegant and impressive chowder to serve on special occasions. The chowder is very easy to prepare with an incredibly rich-tasting broth which begins with smoky bacon, fresh fennel, and thyme. Add the seafood at the end of the cooking time for just a few minutes of simmering to prevent it from becoming overcooked and tough.
I used cod, shrimp, oysters, and mussels.
5 strips thick sliced bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb, fronds reserved
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 bottles clam juice (8 oz. each)
1 1/2 cup diced peeled potatoes
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 8 oz.)
16 oz. mussels, debearded
8 oz. firm white fish such as cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 oz. oysters
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 t. minced fresh thyme
Tabasco sauce to taste
Saute bacon in a pot until crisp; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 T. drippings. Add onion, fennel, and butter to pot, cover, and sweat over medium heat until vegetables are translucent about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour and cook 1 minute, then add wine and boil 1 minute.
Add clam juice and potatoes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, 8 - 10 minutes.
Stir in shrimp, mussels, and fish. Cover pot; simmer chowder until fish and shrimp are cooked through and mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.
Stir in oysters, cream, and thyme and simmer chowder to heat through 2-3 minutes more. Season chowder with salt and Tabasco. Top servings with diced bacon and fennel fronds. Serve with toasted bread.
Recipe courtesy of Cuisine: Celebrate the Seasons