As you may have guessed, I am no longer in Lucca. I always come home trying to hold on to Italy in any way that I can. I went out for gelato this afternoon made by an Italian who went to some “gelato university” in Italy. I’ve made pasta, recreated the dishes from our cooking class in Lucca and have savored my cappuccino every morning, even though it is not at all comparable to one from the neighborhood “bar” I frequented every morning. At some point I have to bite the bullet and get back into my everyday life away from Italy.
I’ve had more than a bit of jet lag and a few evenings I didn’t even make dinner. When I did cook I was looking for meals that didn’t require a lot of work, but were none the less delicious. This salmon chowder more than fit the bill. Some time back while going through my big basket of recipes I found this recipe torn out from a magazine. I then realized that it was the same recipe that I had earmarked in the Epicurious Cookbook which is a collection of four star recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines.
We’ve sort of become addicted to this chowder. You have to believe me when I tell you it comes together very quickly and would be the perfect meal on an evening when you are rushed to get dinner on the table. I always have salmon pieces in the freezer leftover from trimming a filet and they work perfectly in this dish. There’s a bit of smokiness from the bacon, a hint of spice from the pepper flakes and a fresh herbal flavor from the chives. I could eat this seafood stew once a week and never tire of it.
1/2 pound red potatoes
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 cups chopped scallions (from 2 bunches)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn (I use Trader Joes frozen white corn)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (3 cloves)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 (1 1/2-pound) piece salmon fillet (preferably wild), skin discarded and fish cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Garnish: chopped fresh chives
Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes, then cook in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Cook bacon in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook scallions, corn, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red-pepper flakes in fat in pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until scallions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add milk and cream and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to moderately low, then add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt, and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf before serving. Top with oyster crackers if you like.