I realized (MANY hours) after I posted this that the amount of flour I originally stated (2-1/2 cups) couldn't possibly be right. You can't get 3 tablespoons of melted butter to absorb 2-1/2 cups of flour, no matter how hard you try. I also forgot to mention
the potato I'd added to the chowder.
So I'm reposting this, with what I hope is a better estimate of how much flour I really DID use and the potato is now included in the recipe. My apologizes if I lead anyone astray.
To my utter amazement, I found leftover skewers of barbecued swordfish, red onion, and peppers in the 'fridge. Why hadn't my dear nocturnal Mike eaten them in one of his midnight prowls? I dunno... but there I was, with leftovers. I also don't know why I thought
to attempt jazz cooking without first reviewing a bunch of recipes, but I opted instead for a braver plan: to concoct a fish chowder without looking at one single recipe. No peeking allowed.
We live in New England, where chowders of all kinds are served year 'round, so I had a pretty good idea what I needed to do anyway. For one thing, a chowder's got to start with white sauce, even if you call it Béchamel, which I don't. There's really no
other way to get there without butter, flour, and milk. I also prefer chowders that aren't so thick you can set your spoon in them upright. I like a smooth, flavorful, but on-the-runny-side, broth.
So I started by making a white sauce (not too much flour), and then I added about a tsp. of chicken broth (Better Than Bouillon), some salt and pepper, and a little Old Bay Seasoning. If I'd had some fish sauce I'd have added it, but I didn't so I didn't.
Next I added the chopped up leftovers and one baking potato, diced but not peeled. The ratio of fish+veggies to broth was a little close, so I added 2 cups of water, one can of fat free evaporated milk, and half a cup of half-and-half. Then I threw in
a handful (maybe a third of a cup) of chopped watercress. Don't ask where I got the idea to add the watercress. It just seemed right and, as it turned out, it added a brilliant bit of jazz.
I let the whole thing simmer in the pot for about 45 minutes... longer than need be, but I wanted the broth to absorb the flavors of the fish and vegetables. And although I was tempted to skim the top at times, I stirred. What seemed to be a lightly formed
"coating" magically disappeared into the broth without creating any lumps. Go figure.
The results? A really, really, REALLY wonderful fish chowder. Rave reviews from family and friends. What a fine bit of wonderful to add to my file of keepers.
In true jazz-cooking style, I didn't measure anything, so the following recipe is a best guess.
Ellen's Jazzy BBQ Fish Chowder
3 tbsp. butter
4-5 tbsp. white flour*
2 c. milk
2 c. water
1 can fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 c. half-and-half
1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon, Chicken
salt and pepper to taste
Old Bay Seasoning, to taste
1/3 c. chopped watercress
1 large baking potato, diced but not peeled
6 pieces (skewer size.... about 2" across) BBQ'd swordfish, chopped
4 pieces BBQ'd red onion, chopped
2 pieces each BBQ'd red, green, and yellow peppers, chopped
Using the butter, flour and water, make a white sauce. (Melt the butter over low heat; then, with a wooden spoon quickly stir in the flour until it's blended with no lumps; then slowly add the milk and heat and stir over medium-low heat until the sauce
thickens a bit.)
*If the sauce doesn't think enough to your liking, you can make a loose paste with warm water and flour, stirring quickly to avoid any lumps. Then add the paste to the broth and stir some more. Or you can add sifted corn starch which tends to thicken without
Add the remaining ingredients and cook over simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally (resist the temptation to skim the top and stir instead). Serve with a nice crusty bread. Prepare to swoon ;)