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Zesty Seafood Chowder

This robust chowder is a lip-smacking meal-in-a-bowl. I love the hint of smokiness balanced by the heat of the jalapeño.

Zesty Seafood Chowder
Judith Finlayson, Slow Cooker Comfort Food

4 ounces smoked bacon, diced
2 leeks, white part with just a hint of green, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish stock or 1 cup each bottled clam juice and water
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 pounds small clams, cleaned
1 pound firm white fish fillets such as halibut or snapper, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound Maine shrimp, if desired
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup whipping cream
Finely chopped parsley

In a skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain well on paper towel cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Reduce heat to medium. Add leeks and celery to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, thyme, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.

Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir in fish stock and potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Discard any clams that are open. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup water to a rapid boil. Add clams, cover and cook, shaking the pot, until all the clams are open. Discard any that do not open. Strain cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a bowl. Using a fork, remove clam meat from shells.

Add clam cooking liquid and meat to slow cooker, along with fish fillets, reserved bacon, corn, jalapeño and whipping cream. Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes, until fish is cooked through and flavors meld. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with parsley.

Serves 6.

MF&L Staff at Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.

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