I was sick all weekend. Home bound, I watched everything on my DVR and even resorted to some In-Demand episodes of some bad reality TV like Catfish, The Bachelor and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Being home bound also limited my meal options and I had to resort to eating whatever I already had in my pantry and fridge. I actually managed to come up with something that was pretty good but I have to caveat that I made a big tweak to the main ingredient before I was ready to write about it. I made a corn and crab chowder with boxed chicken broth, diced pancetta, frozen white corn kernels, canned San Marzano tomatoes and lump crab meat. The problem was that the crab was from a can. It's not bad, but I would be laughed out of the kitchen if I was competing on Top Chef. Tom Colicchio would roll his eyes and Padma Lakshmi would say, "I can't eat this."
Anyway, if you rinse it out, canned crab is OK if you're in a pinch. Plus, I was desperate and didn't want to leave the apartment to get something else. So I had to make do. Well, make-do I did and I have to say, the end result was surprisingly really good. So good that I decided to make it again tonight, this time using fresh crab meat. Interestingly enough, when I went to buy some at my supermarket, it was only $2 more for fresh versus the canned. The way the soup tasted tonight, it was well worth the extra few bucks.
This chowder is perfect if you want a really quick dinner. It took me about 20 minutes from start to finish and this recipe makes enough for dinner for two. It's also super easy to make, even if you think you're a terrible cook you can make this chowder. And my best friend Sarah will be happy to know that there's absolutely no cheese, cream or dairy of any sort. The girl can't stand any of that. Can you imagine not liking cheese? It blows my mind but I love her anyway.
Here's what you'll need:
14 ounces of canned San Marzano tomatoes, pureed (you can run them in a blender)
1 garlic clove minced
1 shallot minced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of diced pancetta (if you can find any, bacon is a good substitute so use two strips, chopped)
3/4 cup of frozen white corn (if it's in season, definitely use fresh corn)
1/2 pound of fresh crab meat
1/4 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano
salt and pepper
Using a dutch oven (or a large soup pot), turn the heat to medium and let it warm up. Add the pancetta and it should start to sizzle. Sautee and the fat should start to render. Let the pancetta brown up a little before adding the garlic and shallot. Add a little salt and pepper and the olive oil. Let the mixture get a little color but be careful not to burn the garlic as that will leave a bitter taste. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the crab, stir thoroughly and add the basil, oregano and season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to a low simmer and cook uncovered for 12 minutes. Add the corn and cook for another 3 minutes.
The chowder should be nice and thick. Taste it to make sure the seasoning is right and if it needs a little more salt and pepper, you can adjust. Serve with a nice crusty baguette or plain.
Would love to hear from you all if you try this recipe and how it turned out. Buon Appetito!