Codfish and Chourico Chowder

The area of Massachusetts and Rhode Island surrounding New Bedford, called the South Coast, is home to a large population of the descendants of immigrant Portuguese fishermen. Those fishermen, or course, caught the prized fish of the region, cod, and certainly ate it regularly with the spicy chourico sausage they had brought from their homeland. This hearty chowder, reminiscent of the cioppino the Portuguese introduced to the San Francisco Bay area, is perfect for a winter’s night with a nor’easter howling outside.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 spicy chourico sausage, about 6 ounces, sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 1 pound firm, all-purpose potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and cut into ¾-cubes  
  • 3 cups fish, vegetable, or chicken stock (or water as a last resort)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) whole tomatoes in juice, cut into ½-inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cod filets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems. finely chopped

Method

Heat a 6-quart enameled Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot add the bay leaves and cook for a few minutes until they turn brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds or until it is golden. Add the onions and allspice. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chourico and sauté for yet another 5 minutes. Then add the potatoes and stir for a couple of minutes or until coated with the fat in the pan. Finally pour in enough stock to just cover the potatoes, turn up the heat to bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and green beans to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Season with a generous grind of black pepper and salt to taste. Gently stir in the fish—you do not want to break it—and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and sprinkle on the cilantro. Let the chowder to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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