Welcome back, everyone. It’s time for some more savory cooking. I’d been having a really hard time trying to figure out what I wanted to eat for lunches this week. Nothing sounded all that interesting. However, lately, I’ve come across the Glen and Friends Cooking YouTube Channel. Now, Glen and Jules have been around for what feels like forever and I’ve seen their videos recommended before, but it’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve gotten into actually watching them. And watching them I have been. This is just the first of several posts based on their recipes. So, let’s get to it. The first one that I saw that I am able to try is their canned food seafood chowder. Chowder is easily my favorite type of soup. And I’ve never made it on my own. But, I figured, “that doesn’t look too bad. I’m gonna give it a go.” And so, I have. How’d it turn out? Well, spoilers, pretty good. I’m gonna post my process, which is a mildly different from Glen’s. Full recipe will be down at the bottom.
We start out where so many good recipes start out: Bacon. I took 6 slices of bacon, chopped them into pieces, and put them into my pot.
I started with the heat off initially, turning it on only after the bacon went in. From there, I could render out a good amount of the fat from the bacon. I let it go until it was good and browned and I had a bunch of bacon grease at the bottom of the pot. That’s what we’re going to be using to saute the vegetables.
What vegetables? Well, 4 stalks of celery, 1 medium onion, and 2 small leeks (yes, I went to the grocery store and took a leek or two). Now, a word on leeks. They grow in very sandy soil and so, they’ve got grit in them. Wanna see?
Yeah. We don’t want that in the soup. So, I actually chopped the leek up and just put all the pieces in a bowl of water. Grit sinks. Leek floats. Scoop the chopped leek off the top and the grit stays behind. Anyway, mince up the celery, onion, and leek and throw it into the pot.
I should mention that I’m not on a very high temperature here. Maybe a notch or so above medium. I didn’t want to burn the bacon. And with the vegetables, we’re looking to just soften everything. We don’t necessarily want to caramelize the onions. We just want to cook them all down and get soft and translucent, like such:
Next in is potatoes. Glen only uses russets. I thought about it and knew that russets basically disintegrate in a soup like this. However, waxy potatoes, like red potatoes, stay together. I wanted a bit of both, so I did 2 medium russets and about 2 dozen baby reds, cleaned and sliced into bite-size chunks. Into the pot they went.
And, obviously, I didn’t peel anything. Though, in the future, I might think about peeling the russets. Their skins are kinda like a wet, paper bag after boiling. So, something I recommend here and will do next time around.
Now, the potatoes aren’t going to cook like that. We need some more liquid. Next in is either 1 cup of stock (vegetable, chicken, or seafood) and 1 cup of clam juice OR 2 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken, or seafood). I went with the 2 cups of stock. Chicken, to be specific. That goes in with about a tablespoon of dried thyme (or fresh, if you have it), a couple bay leaves, and some cracks of black pepper. Stir it all together and put the lid on. Turn up the heat just a touch and we will let those potatoes cook.
From here, the lid goes on and we give the potatoes 15-20min to cook. While that works away, we need to make the thickener for the chowder. That comes in the form of a bechamel, which we will make in a smaller, second pot. Bechamel is one of the “Mother Sauces” of French cooking and is the base for a whoooooole ton of things. You’ve probably made bechamel many times and didn’t even know it. We start with 1/4 cup of melted butter.
To that, we add an equal amount of AP flour. In this case, that’s 1/4 cup, of course.
This is what’s known as a roux. Whisk this together over medium heat, making sure to get out any lumps.
If you’ve made gravy or gumbo or, as I say, one of about a million other things, you’ve probably done this before. We’re looking for a blonde roux. If we were making gumbo (which I want to do on the blog at some point), we’d take this and cook it until it was the color of a chocolate bar. But as-is, about where you see it there is where we’re going. It doesn’t take long. Maybe just a couple minutes.
Next up, milk. I’m using whole milk. A cup goes into the roux. Glen talks about (paraphrased) “you can put it all in at once. You won’t die.” And, while I’d always gone a little bit at a time with the milk before, I said, “why not?” and dumped the whole cup in at once.
Whisk, whisk, whisk that together over medium heat. I was worried about lumps. I didn’t need to be. They all whisked out very easily. After a couple more minutes, the sauce had thickened and it was ready to go.
By now, the potatoes are probably done. We head back over the main pot and take a look. It’s been about 15min and taking one of the larger chunks of potato out and poking it with a knife, it goes in easily. So, potatoes are done. If yours are still hard, just put the lid back on and wait another 3-5min.
We’re nearly to the home stretch. We’ve got one last addition of ingredients before we’re done. First is seafood. Canned seafood. This is a seafood chowder, after all. Glen calls for four 6oz cans of seafood. Now, here’s where you can mix and match as you want. Clams, cocktail shrimp, oysters, mussels, kippers, whatever. I went with clams and cocktail shrimp.
You could use fresh as well. Or frozen. Pretty much anything, honestly, it seems. I wouldn’t put a whole swordfish in there, but you could give it a shot. We’re going to need to open those cans and then dump them in WITH the liquid in the cans. There’s a lot of flavor in there. We don’t want to lose it down the drain.
Give that a quick stir. Next in is the bechamel. I will warn you, it doesn’t look pretty. You were warned.
No, that’s not mayonnaise. A couple quick stirs and it should integrate easily into the chowder. We also have 1/2 cup of heavy cream as well (it’s chowder, after all). And nutmeg.
That’s a jar of nutmeg nuts and a microplane grater. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the best way to apply nutmeg. The jar costs as much as the pre-grated stuff and lasts indefinitely, as opposed to the ground stuff which tastes like dust from a carpentry shop after 6 months. Trust me, you’ll be happy you made the purchase. Anyway, the cream, bechamel, and nutmeg in, we’re ready to just let this simmer.
Turn the temperature down to the liiiiiiightest of simmers. Remember, the seafood was cooked during the canning process. Unless you want little pencil erasers in your chowder, you don’t want to go crazy with cooking it all again. But this needs some heat and time to meld together. 45min later, we have:
You might have noticed that at no point did I say, “and then I added some salt.” Because I very specifically didn’t add any. Why? Bacon is salty. Cans of seafood are salty. I used salted butter in the bechamel. As such, this pot has plenty-enough salt in it already, as far as I’m concerned. But, post-simmer, feel free to taste it and adjust as you want. Same with black pepper and, really, any of the other flavors in there. But, you are basically ready to serve now.
As I expected, the russets disintegrated while the reds stuck together. I’m very happy for the texture contrast. There’s a few other changes I might make, including going with larger pieces of seafood. The tiny shrimp and clams in-particular just kind of disappear in there. I’d’ve maybe liked slightly larger shrimp. Could also use a bit of garlic in with the onions and leeks. Not a ton. Maybe just 2-3 cloves. I’m gonna put those in the recipe below, since I’m sure I’ll be doing that in future iterations of the chowder.
Anyway, I hope you give this one a try. I’m happy with it and now I’ve got a big pot of it that I can just heat up bowlfuls from for the week.
PB’s Version of Glen and Friends’ Easy Canned Clam & Seafood Chowder:
6 strips of bacon
1 medium onion
1 large leek (or 2 medium)
4 stalks of celery
3 cloves of garlic
2 medium russet potatoes
20 baby red potatoes (or just slightly fewer if you use larger reds)
2 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, or seafood)
1tb dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup AP flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
A couple grates of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the slices of bacon into pieces and place in a cold pot. Turn on the heat to just above medium and render the bacon and brown the pieces.
Clean and dice the leeks, onions, celery, and garlic.
Add the vegetables to the pot and cook over medium heat until softened.
Clean and dice all the potatoes (peel the russets if desired)
Add the potatoes, stock, thyme, and bay to the pot.
Cover the pot and cook over medium, medium-high until potatoes are softened.
In a separate, smaller pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add in the flour and whisk thoroughly to create a roux.
Cook the roux until blonde in color (about 4-5min).
Add the milk and whisk to eliminate any lumps.
Let this cook over medium heat until thickened (8-10min)
Once potatoes are cooked (check by inserting a knife into a piece. If it goes in and comes out easily, you’re there), add the seafood (along with the liquid in the cans), bechamel, cream, and nutmeg.
Reduce heat to a very bare simmer.
Cover and let chowder cook for 45min. Be careful, we’re looking for just a bare simmer here. Too high and the seafood will overcook.