Some of my fondest childhood food memories involve shrimp and crab boils. What an amazing creation – food that you not only got to eat with your hands, but you get to be as messy as you want. Glorious!
I was so disappointed when I had to miss the Gulf Coast Disaster Relief Benefit at the Hotel San Jose last week; a giant shrimp boil with great music, all to benefit the victims of the gulf oil spill. To lend moral support, I decided to make a shrimp and corn chowder for family dinner Saturday night.
Saturday morning I shopped at the Cedar Park Farmers Market with my friend Beth Ann and was delighted to find a seafood vendor at the market. Originally I had only planned to buy shrimp, but they also had blue crabs from Kemah and I couldn’t pass up the chance to add them to to the mix.
I was pleased that I was able to buy everything except the garnishes – avocado, cilantro and lime – from the farmers market or my Farmhouse Delivery box. I was even able to use the shrimp stock I made from the shrimp shells I saved from a dinner earlier this year. I felt like I was doing my part to stretch my little piece of the Gulf even further.
I researched a number of chowder recipes and most called for one to two cups of heavy cream. We are trying to substitute fat wherever we can in our family so I decided to experiment a little. I used a cup of milk and then made a puree from some canned corn that I had leftover from the food bank challenge. The puree helped thicken the soup. Adding the crab gave it some additional lusciousness that would have been missing without the cream. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, use cream instead.
The chowder turned out to be a great way to celebrate our Gulf Coast seafood traditions. If you are concerned about the future of the Gulf and all of those who have depended on it for their livelihood, I highly recommend reviewing the new booklet from the Renewing America’s Food Traditions alliance to learn more about the effects of the spill on our wildlife and future. If you’d rather have a hard copy, I picked one up at the Downtown Farmers Market.
See you at the seafood stand!
Shrimp & Corn Chowder
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 large poblanos, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 lb new potatoes, cut into quarters (or 1/8 depending if they are large)
3 cups broth, I used shrimp but you could use chicken
1 can corn, processed in food processor with 1/2 cup of liquid
1 tbsp salt
1 cup milk
2 lbs shrimp peeled and deveined – chopped
2 lbs crabs boiled, meat removed
1 avocado, sliced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1 lime, sliced for garnish
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and poblanos and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the corn kernels, potato, pureed corn, 1 tbsp salt and the broth. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the flavors begin to meld.
Lower the heat, add the milk and cook for another five minutes.
Add the shrimp and cook another five minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.
Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with a small handful of crab and a slice of avocado. Serve with cilantro and lime as garnish.
Note: If crab meat is not easily available or affordable, you could substitute a few of grilled shrimp as a topper for the chowder. I suggest grilling them in their shells and then removing the shell before you serve to make it easier for your guests to enjoy the dish.