Smoky Salmon Chowder with Lemon Pepper Crackers

Posted on January 16th, 2012  |  Filed under Entrees « Featured Recipe « Recipes

This hot and hearty chowder is a great dish for a winter weeknight. Made with milk, not cream, it’s healthier and lighter than a classic chowder but seems plenty substantial as you are enjoying it. (The downside is that it is a bit more likely to look a little curdled when the lemon juice is added than it would have if made with cream.) The crackers provide the chowder with a tangy counter-point. I had never made crackers before, but they turn out to be surprisingly easy—a simple variation of pie dough rolled out thin and baked. (Substitute good crusty country bread if you like.) Add a tossed green salad and you have a complete and satisfying meal.

For the crackers:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt for sprinkling

For the chowder:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound large boiling potatoes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk, heated
Kosher salt to taste
1 pound salmon fillet, skinned
1/4 pound smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Serves 4 to 6

To prepare the crackers, combine the flour, pepper, lemon zest, and butter in a large bowl. Blend with fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the sour cream, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon cold water. Toss to form a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly into a ball. Add a teaspoon or two of cold water if the dough appears to be too stiff. Wrap the ball in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 15 minutes. (The dough can be made up to a day in advance.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the ball in half and working with one half at a time, roll the dough out 1/16 inch thick. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to make 16 rounds. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Gather the scraps, reroll, and cut them into rounds. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes before serving. You should have about 32 crackers.

To make the chowder, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into 1/3-inch cubes. Whisk the flour into the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the hot milk, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the salmon and cook until slightly firm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and break into chunks. Add the chunks, the smoked salmon, dill, and lemon juice to the hot chowder. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve hot with the crackers on the side.



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