A Week of Lobster – Lobster & Leek Chowder

There are three ingredients that make this a very traditional recipe:  salt pork, day old biscuits or saltines and milk.  The more you substitute the less traditional your chowder will be.  Notice that there is no butter or flour to thicken the chowder.  If there were, then it would be Cream of Lobster Soup, not chowder. 

Lobster & Leek Chowder

1/4 pound salt pork, scored or 2 strips of bacon, diced
1 large leek, cleaned and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large or two small potatoes, diced
1/2 cup Saltines or oyster crackers, crumbled (it’s even better if you have day old biscuits to crumble)
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 cups water
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2, 1 1/2 pound lobsters
1 can evaporated milk

Heat a medium sized stockpot on medium high heat.  Place the scored salt pork in the pot.  Render the pork for several minutes.  Add the leeks and celery to the pot and cook until translucent.  Reduce heat to medium, add the potatoes and crackers, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes encouraging a little bit of light brown to develop in the bottom of the pot.  Add the clam juice, water, and fresh pepper and bring to a boil.  Add the whole lobsters to the stock once it begins to boil and cover.  Remove the lobsters as soon as their shells are bright red.  Allow all of the juice in the lobsters to drain into the stockpot; cool the lobsters in a bowl while the broth continues to simmer, uncovered.  Reduce the heat on the stockpot and add the evaporated milk.  Simmer uncovered, for at least one hour.  When the lobsters are cool, remove the meat from the shells and pour the excess liquid back into the stockpot.  Cut the meat into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the pot just before serving.

Garnishes:
Enjoy one or two of the following garnishes with your Lobster and Leek Chowder.  All of course are not traditional, so forgive any license taken for enjoyment and flavor.

chopped scallions
chopped fresh herbs
crème fraiche (or sour cream)
homemade croutons

Serves 4

A few tips for making the most flavorful chowder:
Once the salt pork is rendered it’s very important to give the onions and the celery time to become translucent.  If a little brown develops on the bottom of the pan, even better, just don’t burn it.  Brown is good, black is not!  This is what makes a flavorful soup.
The same is true when you add the potatoes and the biscuits or Saltines; let the bottom of the pan become a little brown before you add the water and the clam juice. 
The reason that you add evaporated milk rather than fresh milk is that fresh milk will curdle. 
It’s important to wait to add the lobster meat (or any fish) until the end.  If you don’t, the meat becomes tough and chewy.

Annie
Enjoying a bowl full of "chowdah"

© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing