Today is the first day in a long time that it hasn’t felt absolutely bone-chillingly frigid and bitter cold outside. Thank goddess, I think spring may be a real thing that just might happen in the near future! Ramps, rhubarb, asparagus, bring it on!!
However, for the better part of the day and night yesterday it was…well, raining ice. Quite literally. The road conditions quickly became harrowing and everything had a thick frozen slick about it. It was just a gross, sleepy stay-inside-all-day kinda day. It called for soup. I had a hankerin’ for chowder of some sort and went straight for the seafood after envisioning the harmony between hot-smoked salmon, clams and scallops.
It is important that you use hot-smoked salmon in this chowder (if you choose to use smoked salmon, that is). If you use the cold-smoked/cured stuff that you would normally layer across a bagel schmeared with cream cheese, you will end up with something in your chowder that will be very texturally off-putting. The hot-smoked stuff is already cooked so it has a wonderful texture to it and only needs to be stirred in at the end of cooking to heat through! Easy!
Feel free to customize this chowder to your particular seafood preferences, calamari, shrimp, raw non-smoked salmon, mussels etc. would all fit right in with this lot of ingredients! I served this chowder with Cheddar and Old Bay biscuits (ya know, like the ones at Red Lobster) and they proved to be the perfect dipping accompaniment to this cold day cure-all. Hope this chowder can provide some ice-melting rib-sticking satisfaction for you!
Salmon, Scallop and Clam Chowder with Cheddar Bay Biscuits
- 5-6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced, two cloves reserved
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced, one reserved
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced
- 2 medium-large red potatoes, diced in a /12 inch dice
- 2 cups shelled green peas
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 4 ounces hot-smoked salmon (I recommend Ducktrap brand), flaked
- 1 pound sea scallops, side muscles removed, sliced in half to make a top and bottom (not a left half and right half)
- 1 quart seafood stock, preferably homemade
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- 1/2 cup white wine, divided
- 3 dried bay leaves, one reserved
- 1 tablespoon dried herbs de provence
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 pint water
- a few sprigs of fresh dill
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1 recipe’s worth Cheddar Bay biscuits, recipe to follow
In a large pot over medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. When hot, add the reserved shallot, reserved cloves of minced garlic and the reserved bay leaf and saute for 1-2 minutes until softened and translucent but not brown. Add the scrubbed littleneck clams to the pot, squeeze in one quarter of the lemon and then pour in 1/4 cup of the white wine. Put a lid on the pot and allow the clams to steam until they open, 2-3 minutes. If any clams do not open, discard them.
When the clams have opened pour them along with the contents of the pot into a bowl and set aside. Return the pot to the heat and add a fresh glug of olive oil. When back up to temperature, add in the pancetta and render, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown and crisp. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and remaining shallots and garlic to the pot and stir. Cook the vegetables 4-5 minutes until they just begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the bay leaves, herbs de provence, Old Bay, red pepper flake and dried mustard along with the juice from the other three quarters of the lemon. Pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of wine, add the flour to the pot and stir to combine with all of the ingredients. Let the sticky roux paste coating all the veg cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour before adding the stock, water and cream to the pot.
Bring to a boil to meet maximum thickness potential. If you like your chowder on the thicker side, you can always mash a few tablespoons of flour together with a few tablespoons of butter and stir it in at this stage. If you are satisfied with the thickness, hooray! Lower to a simmer and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Add the scallops, clams, salmon and peas to the chowder. Stir in and let cook 3-4 minutes until everything is warmed through and the scallops have turned opaque. Ladle into bowls, top with a Cheddar Bay Biscuit and a sprig of fresh dill and enjoy!!
Cheddar Bay Biscuits
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio
- 9 ounces all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces chilled butter, diced
- 6 ounces buttermilk
- 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, plus some for the top
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, plus some for the top
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter, rubbing and pinching it into the flour with your fingers until the chunks of butter are no larger than peas. Pour in the milk and stir until the dough just comes together. Form into a 4- by -6 inch rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
Unwrap the dough and dust it with flour. Roll out to three times its size maintaining the rectangular shape. Fold it into thirds and roll it out again. Fold in thirds once more, press it down firmly, rewrap with plastic and chill another hour. Repeat the folding procedure before rolling out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut two inch rounds out of the dough with a biscuit cutter or a thin glass.
Transfer the biscuits to a parchment paper lined sheet pan, touching ever so slightly. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with a little more cheddar and a little more Old Bay. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top and risen.