This is a tasty and spicy treat; great in the summer or the winter. You can use coconut milk instead of heavy cream, if you want to avoid diary.
The final chowder is brightly colored – very festive – and smells and tastes delicious – addictive even!
You can get very creative with the vegetables – this is how I prepared it for our Midsummer Eve’s Table-in-the-Field Dinner on July 28th 2018.
It is one of our most-requested recipes from that evening!
Check out our webpage for more info on our Table-in-the-Field Farm Dinners:
4 pounds (usually two bags) of mussels. I really like to use certified organic PEI mussels or from a sustainable farm in the Long Island area
4-5 cups of water
2 cups of dry white wine – I love using a Vermentino from Sardinia, but any dryish white would be fine
1 stick of butter (grassfed and organic would provide best flavor)
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I love the California Olive Ranch brand
2 pounds of small potatoes – can be any variety of colors or the small golden ones are excellent as well
4 small leeks or 2 large leeks – be sure to slice these in half length wise and thoroughly wash out any sand in between the layers
1 yellow bell pepper
1 cubanelle pepper
1 red bell pepper (or any combination of sweet peppers you happen to have)
1 large shallot or several smaller ones
4 garlic cloves – finely chopped
3 teaspoons of Curry Powder (not all curry powders are even close to the same flavor – curry is a mix of spices… I like Mountain Rose Herbs curry powder, which is a classic flavor. Or you can make your own curry – I’ve made it with 1 part fenugreek, 1 part coriander, 1 part turmeric, 1/2 part cumin, 1/2 part cardamon, 1/4 part cayenne – and I was very happy with it…)
1 -2 extra Tablespoons of turmeric
1 – 2 cups of heavy cream
Lots of chopped fresh parsley
Lots of chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Start by adding the water and wine to a big stock pot or dutch over and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, bring the heat down a notch and let it settle at a rolling boil with cover ajar.
Meanwhile, clean your mussels – give them a good scrub and pull off any beards.
Add the mussels all at once to the boiling water and cover fully. Leave cover on for 4 minutes. Then check on them – give them a stir and if it seems some are still closed, put cover back on and let them go another 2 minutes.
Take pot off heat. Scoop mussels into a large bowl to cool – you don’t want them to over cooks at all because you’ll be re-heating them again later and you don’t want them to get rubbery from being overcooked.
Save your mussel water – that’s a huge amount of flavor! But you do need to strain the liquid to remove any sand or sediment left behind. Let it settle and restrain if necessary. This mussel broth will be a cloudy greyish color. You should have at least 4 cups – if you don’t have 4 cups, add a little water. If you have more than 4 cups, then use it all!
Process your mussel meats – I like to save out about 20 or so mussels in their shells. Pick out nice small ones. But then take the time to remove the rest of the mussel meats from their shells. Two many shells in the chowder will make it hard to serve and uses up two much sauce with shell. But I feel like you need the drama of a couple shells to make this chowder really pop!
Throw away any mussels that did not open – these are the bad ones.
The above steps can all be done a day or so ahead and refrigerated.
Prepare your vegetables – cut potatoes into bite size pieces that match one another in size as much as possible. I like to cut the carrots into rounds. Cut the peppers into pretty big pieces as they shrink a lot and can get lost in the curry. Cut the leeks pretty small and I usually slice the shallots into rounds.
Heat butter in a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot until melted then add potatoes. Salt liberally and stir and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. They smell awesome! Then add the carrots, peppers, leeks, and shallots. Cover the pot and let cook for about 12 minutes. I usually test a large piece of carrot to see if it is just-about tender. Once the carrots are almost tender, add the garlic and the spices including plenty of black pepper. I usually give it another sprinkle of salt now too. Cook for another minute or so with cover off, turn up heat a bit to get mixture sizzling.
Now add the Mussel Broth – I usually pour gently so that any extra sediment that may have collected on bottom of bowl remains behind. Bring it back up to a gentle simmer – and cook about 5 minutes, letting the vegetables absorb the mussel flavor. Pull out a potato and test for tenderness. If its fully tender, then add the cream. (you can also stop here with this recipe and save adding the cream until the following day… you want to add the cream and the mussel meats about an hour before serving.)
After adding the cream, adjust the heat – you don’t want it to wildly boil at this point – you want a very gentle simmer – then add the mussel meats.
The mussels are fully cooked at this point, but you want to allow the mixture to meld flavor-wise – let it cook gently for about 3 minutes.
Taste for salt and pepper… then leave it at room temperature for an hour. This resting period also helps build flavors. You can also save in fridge overnight at this point – I find that the mussels may get tougher, but the flavor may be even better…
When you are ready to serve, reheat gently and sprinkle with liberal amounts of the chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve with a crusty bread for scooping up every last drop!