By Felicia Scocozza
Late summer through mid-fall is the perfect time to get in a few last shots at crabbing. In many coastal communities at this time of year you’ll discover seasonal residents have left, the kids are back to their earlier bedtimes and you now have the place all to yourself! What better time to scoop up the prime ingredient for a tasty chowder that really hits the spot on a chilly night.
No doubt you’ll find this recipe a winner. Using local corn gives it a special sweetness, but the store-bought variety will suffice if growing season is behind us. The same goes for the blue claws; fresh is best but lump crab meat will do in a pinch.
Although you can use bacon or any other smoked or cured meat in this recipe, we use venison summer sausage, which crisps up beautifully and doesn’t add as much fat. If using bacon or another fatty meat, you may want to remove some or all of the rendered fat and add additional olive oil before sautéing the vegetables.
The following recipe was inspired by The Barefoot Contessa’s Lobster Corn Chowder recipe. The super smooth crab-based version provided here offers portions generous enough to share with friends – but you might not want to!
Yield: Makes about 10 servings.
Prep Time: 45 minutes if making stock and using lump crab meat, longer if you need to clean fresh crabs.
Cooking Time: 40 minutes for stock; 45 minutes for chowder.
- About 1 dozen boiled and cleaned crabs, meat removed and refrigerated, shells and legs reserved
- 3 cups of the crab stock (cooking water) strained & reserved
- 4 ears of local corn, kernels cut off cobs; cobs reserved
- 4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1/3 cup cream sherry
- 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup dry white wine
- crab shells and crab legs (if using lump crab meat, you won’t have any shells so omit one cup of milk and add a 15-oz. can of fish stock)
- 1-3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ – ½ pound of bacon or other smoked/cured meat, we use venison summer sausage, chopped or small dice
- 3 large unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes, large dice
- 2 large yellow onions, chopped
- ½ head fennel, chopped
- 5 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup cream sherry
- Melt the butter in a large pot.
- Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 7-8 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Add sherry and paprika and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the milk, cream, crab stock, wine, crab shells and legs, and corn cobs. Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Partially cover the pot and allow the stock to simmer at the lowest temperature for 30 minutes.
- When the stock is finished, turn off the heat and use a potato masher to mash up the cobs and shells to get every bit of sweet flavor out of them. Cover and set aside.
- While the stock is finishing, heat one tablespoon of oil in another pot. Cook the bacon or other cured meat for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat stirring occasionally until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.
- Check your rendered meat fat; you may want to remove some of it and replace with olive oil. If using lean meat like venison, add another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add the potatoes, onions, fennel, celery, corn kernels, salt and pepper to the pot and sauté for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the largest pieces of shell and corn cobs from the stock and strain the rest into the vegetable mixture. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Add the sherry, crab meat, dill and cured meat and gently heat through. Serve with your favorite buttered crusty bread for dipping or cut up into large croutons to place directly into the soup.
Note: Unlike baking, cooking is not an exact science. Readers are encouraged to adjust and modify these recipes to their own tastes.