It’s still chilly out there and several friends have asked for a recipe for my smoked haddock chowder.  I visited Cape Cod last July and ordered this at a diner, a ‘locals’ cafe and a very upmarket, smart restaurant.  On the whole, I was disappointed each time.  The chowder was too milky and not fishy enough – no big flakes of lovely smoked haddock.  The vegetable content was largely just bits of potato.  All round, not enough love or care in the chowder.

The only solution is to make your own.  I’ve said it before but please DO NOT overcook the haddock. It’s expensive but you don’t need that much per person. Prep all the vegetables so they are the same size and make sure they are very fresh. Use double cream to finish and a good handful of chopped, flat leaf parsley.  The addition of lemon zest finishes it off with a zingy taste.  It can be an elegant starter for a winter dinner party or a filling lunch on it’s own. Serve with brown bread. Look out for this in a future post – a whole new subject for us!

Smoked Haddock Chowder – serves 6
800 g undyed smoked haddock
1 litre full fat milk
6 black peppercorns
25 g unsalted butter
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, derinded and chopped
1 leek, washed
3 carrots, washed
3 celery sticks, washed
3 medium potatoes, washed
3 sprigs lemon thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly gound black pepper
150 ml double cream
grated zest of a lemon
handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Chop all the washed vegetables so they are diced the same size. Lay out the fish on a board and check for pin bones. Place the milk and peppercorns in a wide saucepan and gently heat. Bring to a simmer, add the haddock and remove from the heat.  The cooling liquid will gently cook the fish

In another saucepan, melt the butter and cook the bacon until it is just browning. Add all the vegetables and herbs and cook gently for 10 minutes

Drain the haddock but keep the poaching milk.  Gently break the fish into large flakes and
look out for any bones you may have missed. Strain the poaching milk to remove the peppercorns then add the liquid to the vegetables. You now need to turn the heat up slightly so the potatoes and carrots are just tender. Don’t let the milk boil.  Carefully add the haddock flakes and stir everything together. Discard the herbs and add the cream. Warm it through again and taste to check the seasoning.  It’s unlikely to need any more salt.

Serve in warmed soup bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley and lemon zest. This is perfect for the weather right now.

I would love to hear from anyone who would like to make a comment.

Next time – TREACLE TART

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