If you are thinking “Shrimp and chicken in the same chowder…not sure about that combo” you are saying to yourself exactly what I said when I saw that this soup was the first course at a dinner my daughter and SIL took me to last week for my birthday. They invited me to Chicago to celebrate my day and we went to Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston for lobster. I’m a purist when it comes to chowders and always make it with chopped fresh razor clams dug right off the Oregon coast so was more than a little dubious about the shrimp-chicken combo that the Fishmarket says has made them famous. Was I in for a surprise!
Their shrimp, chicken, corn and bacon chowder was, simply put, damn delicious. It was thick and creamy without being overly rich and all the flavors and textures blended together perfectly. I especially liked the little jalapeno and cayenne kick…a flavor completely missing from my family’s favorite chowder recipe. I couldn’t find Davis Street Fishmarket’s recipe online but did find something that sounded similar here and think I have done a decent job of duplicating the recipe. If you are a chowder fan I would bet money that you will like this recipe as much as we do. The first thing I did when I got home…just hours before the blizzard hit Chicago…was to hightail it to the grocery store for ingredients.
Fresh lobster isn’t available here on the West Coast and it is seldom seen on restaurant menus, but I have enjoyed it on trips to the East Coast and was excited about our dinner. I did a double take when I saw waiters bringing out platters of whole lobsters and had to laugh when one was set down in front of me with a cracker and a pick. I have served whole Dungeness Crab in the shell many times but my lobster was something else. With a little help I tamed the beast and enjoyed a dinner I won’t soon forget. As full as I was I didn’t leave a bite.
Suzette’s Creperie in Wheaton is one of my favorite restaurants for lunch when I’m in Chicago. The food and atmosphere are excellent. The menu changes regularly and I always order crepes filled with salmon in a tarragon cream sauce when available. It’s divine with a serving of their house salad. Oh how I wish this lovely place was close to my house.
Bakersfield in Westmont is another great spot for lunch or dinner. It’s very comfortable and quiet and the food is excellent. We stopped by for lunch and I ordered a crab cake and a small salad…delicious! If you are in Westmont be sure to take time to walk through Standard Market across the street. When I visit a store like that I feel grocery store deprived when I come home. There’s nothing like it where I live.
I have never associated good seafood with the Midwest but I have had fantastic meals in some wonderful restaurants and have been very impressed by the choices available in seafood counters in some of the high end markets. I love Chicago and it’s always a great dining experience to go there. I could spend hours shopping the many ethnic markets and always come home with ingredients I can’t find in my small town and recipes I can’t wait to try. If you are a chowder lover like I am I hope you will give this recipe a try. I just know you will like it too.
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup onion, chopped
- ¼ cup celery, chopped
- ½ to 1 whole jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 cups 2% milk
- 1-1/2 cups chopped roasted skinless chicken breast
- ½ cup cooked shrimp, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 15-ounce can creamed corn
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 chicken boullion cube dissolved in ¼ cup hot water
- 1 medium size russet potato, peeled, diced and cooked in boiling water until tender (about 5 minutes)
- Cook bacon in a medium pot until just crisp. Remove from pot and drain on a paper towel. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pot. Add butter. Saute onion, celery and jalapeno pepper until tender, stirring frequently. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until thick. Remove bay leaves. Serve with a garnish of chopped bacon and parsley.