We call this chowder at my house but I don’t know if that is the right name. Households around the world have their own special take on the food they prepare and WE think this is chowder! It was a wonderful evening – almost felt like the weekend – that’s what making and eating food together does!
You will need: 1 lb shrimp (I used 41-50 count for this), 6 bacon slices, 1 celery stalk, 2 leeks, 2 tbl unsalted butter, 12 dry scallops (optional) 8oz bottle clam juice, 3 cups of water, 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups uncooked Basmati rice, 2 tbl olive oil, 1 tbl maple syrup (both the olive oil and maple syrup are only needed if you use the scallops in this recipe)
I have a rice cooker so I put it on at the onset of preparations. If you don’t, put on your rice to cook at this time. When it is cooked turn off heat and leave pot on stove-top to keep warm. Dice celery (you do this by cutting the stalk in three pieces and slicing each piece length-ways 4 times and thin slicing finely), dice leaks – white parts and a little of the green only (you do this by doing exactly what you did to the celery). Put saute pan on low to medium heat and add butter. Add leeks and onion and saute until soft (about 8-10 minutes).
While this is cooking put on another pan (can be small pan – 8″) on low to medium. Cut the bacon into 1/4″ strips and saute until just getting crispy. Remove to plate and set aside. ALSO at the same time, rinse shrimp and remove shells. Chop shrimp in half and place in a bowl. Put another small pan on low to medium heat and add milk and cream and shrimp shells and a few grinds of black pepper. Let it come to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit until needed.
When leek and celery mixture has softened add the 3 cups of water, clam juice and bouillon cube. Bring to a boil and turn down heat. Add bacon and simmer with lid on for 5 minutes. Take off lid and strain the milk into the broth using a sieve (discard the shells) and turn off heat. Turn on pan with bacon fat to medium low heat. When warmed, add reserved shrimp and saute for 4 -5 minutes until cooked through. Remove shrimp from fat with slotted spoon and add to broth. At this point taste broth and add salt if you would like (1/2 tsp?) and a grind of black pepper. Turn on heat to low to keep your shrimp dish warm. In a warm shallow bowl add 1 cup cooked rice and ladle the shrimp chowder over this. If using scallops as a garnish, place on top. Serve and pass pepper and salt as needed. Note: I had about 10 left over roasted cherry tomatoes in the fridge and I added them when I turned down heat at the end of cooking – nice color.
Scallop Garnish: At the beginning of your preparations get a medium bowl, add your washed and dried scallops and add 2 tbl of olive oil and 1 tbs maple syrup. Mix well and set aside. When dinner is almost ready to serve turn on a pan large enough to cook scallops in a single layer to medium heat. Add oil and let pan and oil get hot (about 2 minutes or so). Add scallops to pan with tongs, shaking off excess marinade as you go. Cook on one side without touching for 2 to 3 minutes, turn, and do the same on the other side. Garnish your chowder with this. It adds a lovely sweetness to the dish and looks very impressive!