Chowder great for a quick weekday meal

The Baltimore Sun

I once heard the founder of Glory Foods, the late Bill Williams, justify cooking with his company's Southern-inspired canned greens in a way that made me forever stop apologizing for shortcuts: "These won't be as good as the 'Sunday best' greens you remember your mother making, but I guarantee they'll be the best Tuesday-night greens you ever rushed to prepare."

I make the same claim for this recipe laced with my best weekday shortcuts. This quick fix has been known to draw raves from hungry family and friends as a quick weekday dinner.

Substitute the shrimp and fish with a 1-pound package of cleaned mixed seafood (I found shrimp, fish, scallops and squid in a neat package at Trader Joe's in the freezer case.)

Donna Pierce writes for the Chicago Tribune, which provided the recipe analysis.

Shrimp-and-Fish Chowder

Serves 6

2 baking potatoes, pierced in several pieces with a fork

1 each, trimmed, coarsely chopped: onion, celery rib, green pepper

4 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

2 bottles (4 ounces each) clam juice

1/2 cup whole milk

1 can (12 ounces) unsweetened low-fat evaporated milk

2 white fish fillets, cut into chunks

1/2 pound peeled, deveined, raw frozen shrimp, defrosted, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Asian hot chile sauce, such as Sambal Oelek (optional)

Cook the potatoes in a microwave on high (100 percent) until just fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Peel; cut into chunks. Set aside. Meanwhile, process the onion, celery and green pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped; set aside. Cook the bacon, turning occasionally, in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Add the reserved onion, celery and green pepper; cook over medium-high heat. Cook until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the reserved potatoes, bay leaves, fish sauce, seafood seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until well mixed, about 1 minute.

Add the clam juice and both kinds of milk; heat just to a boil. Add the fish chunks and shrimp; lower heat to a simmer. Stir in the half-and-half. Cover; cook until fish is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, crumble the bacon; stir in the bacon, fresh parsley and chile sauce, if using. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Per serving: 264 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 111 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrate, 25 grams protein, 884 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber

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