Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Smoked Haddock Chowder - Beige Night

Digression: In 5 or even 6 weeks time - and it's wholly uncertain which - we get to move again. Third time in 3 years. This time it's just around the corner, quite literally: we can hear the diggers from our back garden. We're buying a new-build and we're putting down roots: the two aren't quite as mutually exclusive, it seems, as you might think.

Renting's an odd thing. Get the right house and you can kid yourself for quite a long time it's all good. The beige walls and carpet can be coloured up with a few wall stickers and picture, the lounge can withstand the red rug everyone hates, even you, though you bought it to cover the carpet a little and "accent" the throws you bought to lighten up the furniture. But still it comes down to the boring mantra "Don't swing/bash/colour that - it's not ours" and you all feel slightly dampened; it's not yours and you can't touch it. Hard with a small child, harder still when you just want to colour the damn beige in yourself. I'm going mad with wall stickers when we finally move in. MAD.

Anyway, tonight's dinner is also distinctly on the beige side. Tbh, I needed to use up milk, which seems to multiply in my fridge like pigweed in the night and so this, as well as the mac cheese that is no doubt coming later in the week, is just the thing. V easy and feel free to use smoked cod, or bacon as well, or different veg: this is just what we had in. Mussels make a very fine luxe version, for the weekend maybe.

Serves 3

400g or so smoked fish
300ml milk
100ml double cream
bay leaf and peppercorns
knob of butter
1 onion, finely sliced
1 leek, finely sliced
Handful small potatoes or indeed 1-2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Frozen peas and sweetcorn (optional)
Handful raw prawns
Chopped parsley or dill
Squeeze of lemon juice

Simmer the smoked fish in the milk and cream with the bay leaf and peppercorns for 5-7 minutes or until it flakes away. Discard the skin, reserve the liquid and set the fish aside.

Sweat the alliums in the butter until truly soft and slippery. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes without browning, then add the milk/cream and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft. Add a little more milk or cream or even fish stock if you feel it needs topping up. This is a soup so you want generous amounts of liquid.

Add the haddock, prawns and peas and corn if using. I like the idea of corn in a chowder, MCD hates it, but I'm cooking, so ho-hum. Simmer until the prawns are cooked, then adjust the seasoning and add the herbs and lemon juice. Serve in deep bowls with crusty baguette for dunking.

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