Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder with Cheddar Biscuits

If you have been paying attention to my posts this summer, you may have noticed my growing obsession with corn.  I think I could probably devote the entire blog to corn and be happy.  When I was proclaiming my love for corn last weekend, my sister told me she was under the impression that corn wasn’t particularly healthy.  I told her she was wrong but since I had no evidence to back up my claim, I did some research.  It turns out corn is a great source for vitamins B1, B5, C, and contains a good amount of dietary fiber.  My sister’s mistaken impression about corn is unfortunately not surprising because she grew up with me.  While I am sure it is hard to believe, I was a pretty picky child and  I developed a habit of making up lies about foods that I didn’t like.  My poor little sister of course believed every word out of my mouth and is still trying to crawl out of the web of lies I cast.  My childhood friend was just reminding me that she thought mushrooms had no nutritional value for years based on my claims (I can’t believe I used to hate mushrooms!).  I also told prolific lies about banana nuts causing cancer.  Luckily I am repenting for my lies by clarifying nutritional value on my blog.  However, I will never laud the nutritional benefits of bananas- I have to draw the line somewhere. 

Getting back to the recipe, the chowder was delicious and I think I like these cheddar biscuits even more than the goat cheese biscuits we make for Thanksgiving each year.  The recipe is from The Paley’s Place, a restaurant in Oregon that features Northwest Cuisine.  These clams are another success from the same cookbook.  It seems funny to have hot soup in the middle of the summer, but I wanted to take advantage of the amazing corn.  I am thinking of making a winter iteration of this chowder to use as a first course for Christmas dinner so I will keep everyone updated on developments- it’s never too early to start planning holiday menus!
Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder
serves 6-8

Corn Broth¼ cup olive oil
Shells from 2 Dungeness Crabs
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 leek, green part only (reserve white part for chowder)
2 large corn cobs (reserve corn kernels for chowder)
4 sprigs thyme
¼ teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
¼ teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups dry white wine
8 cups water
Kosher salt and ground pepper
In an 8-quart soup pot, cook the olive oil and crab shells over high heat, stirring to thoroughly coat the shells with oil, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, carrot, leek greens, and corn cobs, and cook until the vegetables brown slightly, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with thyme, cumin, coriander, and cayenne.  Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the wine, decrease the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid reduces by half, about 10 minutes.
Add the 8 cups of water and simmer until the flavor of crab is prounounced, at least 1 hour but up to 4 hours.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Strain everything through a fine colander set over a large bowl, pressing the solids to extract the maximum amount of liquid.  Measure 8 cups for the base of the chowder and set aside.  If any broth remains, store it for another use.

For the Chowder:2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces smoked bacon, cut into ½ inch dice
2 leeks, white parts only, quartered lengthwise and cut into small dice
1 carrot, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons flour
6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice
Corn kernels from 2 ears
1 cup heavy cream
Dungeness crab meat from 2 cooked crabs
4 tablespoons Persillade (see recipe below)
In the 8-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the diced leek whites and the carrot and cook, stirring, until the carrot pieces have softened slightly, another 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour and stir until well mixed.  Add the 8 cups reserved crab broth, then the potatoes, corn kernels, 2 tablespoons of persillade, and the majority of the crab meat (reserve some for garnishing).  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the cream, reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
When ready to serve, divide between soup bowls, top with the reserved crab meat, garnish with the remaining persillade, and serve. 


makes about 1/3 cup
1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only
3 large garlic cloves
Finely chop the parsley on a cutting board, then gather it to one side. Finely chop the garlic. Mix them together and chop some more until well incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a small container, cover tightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cheddar Biscuits
makes about 12 biscuits
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch dice. 
1 onion, finely diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 ¼ cups grated cheddar cheese (If  you are in the Northwest, use Beecher’s Flagship)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a 10-inch skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and saut√© the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the onion mixture to a small bowl to cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the remaining 7 tablespoons butter and work by hand or with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.  If you have a pastry blender, that would work well.  Add the cooled onion, buttermilk, and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese, stirring until just combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Drop heaping soup spoonfuls of the dough onto the paper about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle the biscuits evenly with the remaining cheddar cheese.  Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. 

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