Makes 4 quarts, enough for 16 appetizer or 8 entree servings
While clams in chowder can sometimes become a bit tough, fresh oysters stay plump and salty-sweet, and rendered salt pork adds a depth of flavor. Use oyster liquor for flavor and potatoes for thickening.
8 ounces salt pork or bacon,
cut in small strips
2 medium onions, in small dice
3 stalks celery, in small dice
10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 medium bell peppers, in small dice
1/4 cup flour
1 quart clear chicken stock,
clear seafood stock, or oyster liquor
3 bay leaves
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, half of them cooked
and put through a ricer, milled, or mashed,
half uncooked but cut in small dice
1 cup heavy cream
3 pints shucked oysters in their liquor
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
Place a soup pot on high heat for 1 minute. Add the salt pork and cook to render for about 5 minutes, or until fat is clear and colorless, stirring occasionally. Add the onions, celery, garlic, and peppers, and cook for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and onions are clear. Stir occasionally.
Add the flour, stirring constantly so that nothing sticks to the bottom during cooking. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the flour is well distributed and the mixture thickens. Add the stock and bay leaves and simmer uncovered over medium heat for 25 minutes. Add mashed potatoes, stir, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add diced potatoes, simmer, and stir occasionally, cooking for about 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in the cream, bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, and add the oysters. Cook until the edges of the oysters curl, then season with salt and pepper. Spoon into serving bowls, add a dash of hot sauce and a sprinkling of green onions to each serving, and serve with a bit of the butter, if desired, floating on top.
Chef Jamie's Tips
It is much easier to cut salt pork when it is frozen.
Oyster liquor, also called oyster liquid, is the juice from the oyster that runs off during shucking. Chicken or seafood stock, or canned clam juice, are all great substitutes. Don't season to taste until you have added the oysters, because they and the pork can be salty.
You can adjust the consistency by adding a few tablespoons of blond roux to make a thicker soup or adding more stock or cream for a thinner soup.
Take Home the True Tastes of New Orleans
with 150 Recipes from Commander's Palace Restaurant
By Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon
Broadway Books, October 2000
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created December 2000