Roughly translated, that means "Milk of the Sea" - an incredible seafood chowder.
Our Christmas Bazaar is December 6th. Last year, we sold 800 quarts of soup. Actually, we sold out two hours before the end of the bazaar. That was even better than our "Cookie Walk" which is a pretty amazing assortment of confections. It was incredible. So, I'm making double what I made last year.
The thing of it is, the ingredients vary depending on what my grandfather uncles ("the boys" as my grandmother called them) caught. Later, after my grandfather died, it depended on what was on sale at the fish market.
My grandmother also used whole milk and light cream (I use fat free half and half - it makes me feel better about the bacon and all that butter) and the best cream sherry she had in her pantry. I use Lustau, lacing it in two heavy dollops on the top of the soup shortly before it is served.
She also would save some of the summer corn, shaving the kernels from the cob, and toss that in as well. I have never found canned corn satisfactory, so if I don't have any summer corn in my freezer, I don't add it. She also garnished with some fresh parsley from her garden.
The key is freshness. Don't skimp on this point. It really makes all the difference.
So, here's my grandmother's recipe. It makes a huge pot and freezes very well. Ms. Conroy and I had a bowl for supper last night. Yum, yum, yum.
1/2 pound butter
one large onion, finely chopped
one head of garlic (yes, that much), finely chopped
1 pound each of five to seven kinds of seafood. (I prefer the combination of:
shrimp (I like the colossal, cut in half) , scallops (I prefer bay to sea), minced clams (canned are fine), and salmon or pollock or some other 'meaty' fish, crab meat, flounder, oysters, muscles.
1 and a 1/2 quarts of fat free half and half (or whole milk and light cream)
1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetable or chicken broth
6 medium new or red potatoes
1/2 cup fresh corn (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a very large soup pot on low flame, put the vegetable or chicken broth along with two small or one large cans of minced clams, with the clam broth. If you are using fresh frozen corn, add it to the pot. Keep it simmering. Don't let it boil. Stir the pot from time to time (like all good revolutionaries do).
In a small pan, boil the potatoes in water until fork-tender.
In a very large skillet, fry bacon until very crisp. Drain, cool, crumble and set aside. Into that same skillet, add one stick of butter and saute the finely chopped onions and garlic until translucent. When done, transfer with a slotted spatula into the large soup pot.
In that same skillet, begin to saute the fish and shellfish, one ingredient at a time. I usually start with the salmon or fish, then the shrimp, then the scallops. Cook them each just until done. Do not overcook. As each is done, drain and put into the soup pot.
When the potatoes are fork tender (a little resistance is not a bad thing), remove from heat, drain, cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add to the skillet to brown slightly. (You may need another 1/2 stick of butter). Salt and pepper to taste while they are browning.
Add the cubed potatoes and crumbled bacon to the pot. Stir well.
When all the ingredients are in, add the half and half (best to have left it at room temperature before adding. Salt and pepper to taste. Careful here: you can always adjust the seasonings 'up' rather than 'down' according to your own tastes preference. I think it tastes best with lots of fresh ground black pepper, but that's just me. Let it all simmer together for about 20 minutes so that the different tastes can "marry" each other.
Add two very heavy dollops of cream sherry, stir gently but well, and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. My grandmother always made the sign of the cross with the sherry and said a little prayer of thanksgiving for the "milk of the sea". Actually, that may have been the secret ingredient.
Stir together gently and taste again for seasonings. You may want to add an additional dollop of cream sherry immediately before serving. Serve in a deep bowl, sprinkled with a few sprigs of parsley, with a side of light salad, hot, crusty, buttered bread and the wine of your choice.
Calories? Fuggedeboutit! It's winter. My grandmother always said you need more calories in the winter. You gonna argue with my grandmother? Even from the grave, she'd be a formidable opponent. Just hit the gym for an additional 30 minutes the next day or do an additional hour at the gym that week. Trust me. It's worth it.
Freeze whatever is left over in tightly sealed quart containers. The only thing better than fresh chowder is days old chowder.