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Conch Chowder

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Ingredients

¼ pound slab bacon, rind removed and diced

½ cup olive oil

1 jalapeño, seeded and stemmed, medium diced

6 cloves garlic, sliced

2 Scotch Bonnets, seeded and stemmed, minced

1 large onion, peeled and medium diced

8 celery stalks, cleaned and medium diced

2 carrots, peeled and medium diced

1 bulb fennel, medium diced

1 red pepper, seeded and stemmed, medium diced

1 yellow pepper, seeded and stemmed, medium diced

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper

1 quart peeled plum tomatoes, crushed

1 quart tomato purée 

3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons each of fresh oregano and basil, chopped

1 quart fish stock

2⅔ quarts bottled clam juice

2½ pounds cleaned conch meat (preferably Caribbean-harvested conch in “#1” grade)

3 cups diced potatoes, cooked and drained (scrub, but do not peel potatoes) 

Hot sauce

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, render bacon fat with oil.
  2. When fat is rendered, add jalapeño, followed by the next 8 ingredients. Sauté briskly. Add crushed red pepper.
  3. Add tomatoes and tomato purée. Reduce heat and add bay leaves. Add herbs and simmer.
  4. In separate large pot, bring fish stock and clam juice just to a boil. Quickly strain mixture into the simmering soup.
  5. Add conch meat and potatoes. Add hot sauce to taste, boil, then serve or chill for later use.

Note: The Local Palate does not normally advocate the use of frozen or imported seafood. We make exception only for a dish such as this one—a dish with a rich history and one emblematic of a region in the South. Feel free to substitute clam meat for conch meat in an effort to be more sustainable.

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