SMOKED HADDOCK CHOWDER: A WINTER WARMER
In the main (oh, so funny!) I don’t eat fish. I don’t like fish. My idea of horror is a summer buffet with a great whale, aka salmon, reclining on a platter and dressed in cucumber slices. The only good part is hollandaise sauce.
I love shellfish – never enough of the prawn or the crab or the mussel or the scallop. But fish-fish: shiver. Except for smoked haddock. So my Winter Warmer is a chowder. Chowder is the most wonderful fuel to top up ones wintry low-fired system. Filling and tasty. A hot water bottle of internal insulation. A radiator in a bowl.
Smoked Haddock Chowder
500g undyed smoked haddock (the neon yellow dyed smoked haddock is to be avoided
1 pint Proper milk – semi-skimmed at a pinch, but definitely not watery fully skimmed
2 bay leaves torn into pieces, a few peppercorns, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 finely chopped onion
A knob of butter
2 Potatoes, cubed and boiled to the very nearly done stage
200 ml Single cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Handful of chopped parsley for the scattering on
The secret ingredient (please, do not faint): a can of creamed sweet corn
The Making Thereof:
This might seem a bit of a performance as it involves 3 saucepans, but it’s worth it. First saucepan is for the haddock. Place fish in the pan with enough milk to cover, scattering the bay leaf pieces, peppercorns and fresh thyme (it’s not necessary to pick the leaves off the stem, as a sieving moment will happen). Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, covering pan with a lid.
Meanwhile, in your second saucepan cook the potatoes, adding a little salt to the water. When nearly cooked, drain and set to one side. Saucepan no. three: melt the butter and then sweat the onions over a low heat: don’t allow them to burn. When the onions are translucent, pour in the can of creamed sweet corn. Add some cayenne pepper, if using. Stir to combine and remove from the heat.
The exciting bit. When the haddock is cool enough to handle, flake it into chunks (keeping a look-out for any lurking bones) and add to the onion/sweet corn mixture. Strain the haddocky-milk into the pan. Add the potatoes. It will look rather swampesque at this point: add more milk to get a consistency that suits, and heat through: don’t stir with too much vigour as the smoked haddock pieces should “retain their identity” and the potatoes mustn’t go into a mush. Add the cream and season to taste. Do not allow to boil.
Ladle into heated bowls with chopped parsley sprinkled over the top and, if you feel like adding another decorative embellishment, wedges of lemon. Serve with hot crusty bread.