Chowder Reconsidered

ChowderWith all the early winter horrors or news of it upon us, we yearn for comforting nourishment. Chowder comes to mind. We’ve got an arsenal of tried and true recipes, but have been really impressed with substituting chickpea or “gram” flour for all purpose wheat flour. Here are four simple reasons to give it a try. Roux made with chickpea flour is luscious and velvety; it doesn’t separate; there is no gluten; and chickpea flour contains a higher proportion of protein than any other flour.

So let’s get started. This is not a specific recipe. It’s more of a departure point to encourage your own explorations.

Begin with a saute of seasoned savories in some EVOO. Onions, mushrooms, fennel, celery. For smoke add some chopped bacon or pepperoni…whatever you fancy. When the savories are limp/translucent/done, add a few tablespoons of butter with a few tablespoons of chickpea flour and toast the roux for a few minutes. The beauty of chickpea flour is that you can add more later to thicken the chowder. You don’t have to be as precise about amounts at this point as you have to be with wheat flour. Add hot milk [or substitute almond, soy or rice milk to avoid lactose if you like] stirring with a whisk. You will be impressed that there are no lumps. Then add an equal amount of stock bringing all to a gentle boil. Here’s where you decide if your chowder is thick enough or if you need to add more chickpea flour. If you need more, just toss it in and stir. No need to make a slurry, but you can if you like. 

Now it’s time for the chowder ingredients. Add your choice of vegetables. Note: Rather than boiling our vegetable ingredients, we prefer to oven roast them. Bite size cuts of potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers [we add items like peas or corn with the seafood at the end]. Our go-to temp/time is 450F/20:00. You get a deeper, richer flavor. Bring this mixture to a gentle boil, toss in your raw seafood [for this recipe, we used squid, clams, mussels & shrimp], shut off the heat and let the pot rest covered for ten minute. The seafood will be perfectly cooked. When you remove the lid, you’re in for a treat. But remember, just one of an infinite number of seafood & vegetable combinations. 

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