Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Langoustine Chowder

First up what the hell is a langoustine?  Its a sea critter too big to be a shrimp and way too small to be a lobster.  It is its own critter, not quite as sweet as lobster, but very close.  I first had them several years ago and fell in love with them. They aren't native to my local waters so I need to keep an eye out for them in their frozen state.  Luckily both Trader Joe's and Costco have them from time to time.  When they show up, I grab a bag as they are too good to pass up.

I use a lot of sweet corn, the white variety as its much sweeter than the darker yellow stuff.  Its easy to find in the frozen aisle.  Certainly those 3 weeks is peak of freshness in August I'll use the real deal, but then why limit oneself to so few weeks when the frozen stuff is quite a good substitute.

I use a russet potato,aka Idaho baking as they hold their shape and texture better than the waxy varieties like a Yukon gold in a chowder.  Important to know your spuds and when to use which.

Shhh...big secret here, I don't use flour and make a roux with my chowder which prolly will land me on a 10 most wanted list in New England...but I'm a California guy and I'll do it my way for speed and ease of prep. Corn starch works wonders and doesn't have to cook out to get rid of a "flour" taste.

Lastly, this recipe doesn't call for a specific amount of salt.  The reason being is that salt pork and broth both contain a fair amount of salt in them.  Its best to test for seasoning after the half and half has been added and thickened and add a quarter or half teaspoon as needed at the end.  Its much easier and safer to do it this way rather than piling on the salt early and then have too much in your chowder.

Langoustine Chowder

  • 1 lb langoustines
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 lb salt pork or pancetta
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 3 c sweet corn
  • 2 large russet potato
  • salt
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 4 c half and half

Cube salt pork and brown in heavy stock pot over medium heat.

Finely mince onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Add to salt pork and cook 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add thyme leaves and cook 1 minute longer. 

Add chicken broth, sweet corn, finely diced potato and bring to boil then reduce heat to slow simmer.  Cook 15 minutes.  Whisk together cornstarch and half and half.  Stir into your veggie mix and bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes until starting to thicken.  Test for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Add langoustines and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes. (If using frozen cook 1-2 minutes until just heated through).

Serve hot with a big slice of crusty cheesy garlic bread.

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