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Oyster Chowder with Saffron Creme and Homemade Oyster Crackers

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Ingredients

Saffron Cream

¼ cup white wine

Pinch saffron threads

1 cup crème fraîche

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Homemade Oyster Crackers

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup unsalted butter, diced and well chilled

4 tablespoons (about ¼ cup) ice-cold water

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Kosher salt to taste

Chowder

¼ cup peanut oil

¼ cup finely diced bacon

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup finely diced onion

1 cup finely diced carrots

1 cup finely diced celery

1 cup finely diced leeks

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

4 cups clam juice or fish stock

2 cups heavy cream

1½ cups finely diced potatoes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pints shucked oysters and their liquor saffron cream (recipe above)

1 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Homemade oyster crackers

Directions

Saffron Cream

  1. Heat white wine and saffron in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half, about 2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat and cool. Remove and discard saffron threads.
  2. Whisk reduced wine into crème fraîche and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Yield: 1 cup 

Homemade Oyster Crackers 

  1. Sift together the flour and salt into a medium bowl and stir in the pepper. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, add the butter to the flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring just until the mixture begins to stick together and form dough.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly into a small disk. Chill dough for at least 2 hours before using.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dough on a well-floured work surface. Roll until dough is almost paper-thin, sprinkling additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Dough should be thin but not tearing.
  4. Use a 11⁄2-inch round cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Use a spatula to transfer crackers to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Do not reroll the dough scraps, as it will make tough crackers.
  5. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the tops of the crackers. Sprinkle salt lightly over the tops of the crackers.
  6. Bake crackers for 5−8 minutes or until slightly puffed and golden brown. Watch crackers carefully toward the end of the baking time as they begin to brown quickly. Remove from the oven and cool crackers completely on the baking sheet.
    Yield: About 80 crackers 

Chowder 

  1. Heat peanut oil in a medium stockpot over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, 5−8 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, just until mixture begins to turn a light golden color, about 5 minutes. (Be careful not to let the flour mixture burn or get too dark.)
  3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5−7 minutes.
  4. Stir in clam juice or fish stock, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add cream and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5−7 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Stir in oysters and their liquor and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, just until oysters are heated through. Remove stew from the heat.
  7. Spoon into warmed soup bowls and garnish each with 1−2 tablespoons of the saffron cream and 1 teaspoon of chives. Serve warm with homemade oyster crackers.
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