The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Oyster Chowder w/ Beer and Bacon

November 14, 2011

When I saw this recipe in last weeks NYmag, I thought of S immediately. Beer, bacon AND oysters? It was a no brainer. After reviewing the recipe together, we made plans for a soup Sunday and it actually happened!

It was an EATING weekend with deliciousness happening everyday. Between brunch at the Breslin on Friday, the chocolate show and Hill Country on Saturday, brunch at Chevella’s and then this soup, my tummy looks like it has a small alien growing inside of it. Welcome to the holidays I suppose…

This recipe is 99% perfection and 1% misguidance. “Eat the mussels or discard them” it says. WHY on earth would you discard 5 lbs of mussels? That just seems like a sin. EAT THEM. If you don’t like mussels, you shouldn’t be making this recipe. I seriously doubt anyone is that tuned into the nuances of a beer mussel broth to where they can admit to having their moneys worth by throwing away the mussels.

It turns out that 5 lbs of mussels is a lot of mussels. Even for 5 people who can eat a lot. So, we ate our fill. And then we removed the remaining from the shell, added them to the soup and gave it a little immerse’ for good measure. It was delightful.

Ed. Note: immerse’ is not actually a word but I made it one last night so I’m rolling with it.

The whole evening was delightful. While I would not consider myself a chowder aficionado, I have had my fill over the past 30 years and this is probably one of the best. This soup is a rich, flavorful concoction and yet it was surprisingly light despite having a P.Dean’s worth of butter in there. And all the ingredients considered, it was rather speedy to make. We all chipped in on the chopping. S and L shucked and we were good to go.

Overall, 3 ½ hours from start to dishes finished.


Ingredients

Broth
5 lbs. fresh mussels
2 12-oz. bottles of pilsner or IPA

Soup Base
6 tbs. butter
2 cups finely diced smoked bacon
2 1/2 cups finely diced onion
2 1/2 cups finely diced celery

Potato Cream
3 lbs. Yukon Gold or other yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 sprigs fresh thyme

To Finish
36 fresh oysters, shucked, liquor reserved (Wellfleet or bluepoint preferred)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
One bunch of chives, finely chopped
Instructions
Broth
Rinse the mussels in cold water to remove any excess sand, and place them in a large pot with the beer. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until all the mussels open. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then strain the liquid and reserve. (Eat the mussels or discard them.)

Soup Base
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, adding the bacon and cooking over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until the bacon starts to render and caramelize slightly. Add the onions and celery, then cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. (Do not allow them to brown.) Add the mussel-beer broth, and set aside.

Potato Cream
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, and simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove the thyme, and discard. Use a slotted spoon to remove half the potatoes, and add them to the soup base. With an immersion blender, purée the remaining potatoes. Add the purée to the soup base, and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes to combine flavors.

* After a second read of this recipe, I realize how that we didn’t set the soup base aside. I added the soup base to the potato cream ingredients and cooked it all together. I think overall, this gave it more flavor. Especially at the next step, once we took the immersion blender to it.

Finish the soup by adding the oysters along with their liquor. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tabasco. Garnish with chives, and serve.

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