Friday, February 13, 2015

Irish Scallop Chowder

by Sheila Connolly

from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook 2012

If you think Irish pub food is dull and heavy on the cabbage, think again: this is a great cookbook that I treated myself to, with wonderful pictures, and I’ve bookmarked a lot of the recipes and am working my way through them. And of course I have to visit a lot of Irish pubs to make sure the recipes are accurate!

A few weeks ago I found that our local market had started to stock a new line of fish products: a mixture of shellfish, shrimp and whatever, flash-frozen. Since this recipe called for a variety of seafood, it was perfect, and it was exactly the right amount. I figured it had to be a sign that this dish would be on the menu.

I'm a sucker for baby squid (ooh, a pun!)

It’s a fairly quick and easy recipe—and definitely tasty. I served it with St. Brigid’s bread, which rounded out a nice meal.

Irish Pub Scallop Chowder

3-1/2 Tblsp butter

9 oz large scallops, quartered
4 bacon strips, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 starchy potatoes (russets or Yukon Gold), diced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups chicken stock (or you could use fish stock)
2 cups whole milk, scalded
9 oz. mixed cooked seafood (shrimp, mussels, etc. (not fish)
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the scallops in batches (not all at once) and cook for 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. [Note: you may find that the scallops release a lot of liquid, which makes it hard to brown them. Don't worry about it--you just want to cook the scallops lightly. The remaining liquid will cook down over the next few steps.]

Add the bacon to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown.

Add the onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes. [I have a confession to make: I don’t really like celery. I find that if I include it in a dish—and I know a lot of recipes do!—the result always tastes too much like celery to me. It’s up to you if you want to include it.] Season with salt and pepper, then cover and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables start to soften.

Add the thyme to the vegetables. Pour in the stock, cover the pan, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Remove the thyme sprigs. Mash a few of the vegetable with a spoon, to thicken the soup. Pour in the milk (which will already be warm, since you scalded it--a microwave works well for this).

Add the scallops and mixed seafood to the pan. Cook until they are heated through but don=t let the mixture boil.

Serve in warm bowls.

Ah, yes, the book: An Early Wake, third in the County Cork Mysteries, released February 3rd.

#10 in Barnes & Nobles mass market mysteries! #12 in all Barnes & Noble mass market books! And! (Drumroll, please) #10 on the New York Times Mass Market Bestseller list!

The reviews have been so lovely. I'm thrilled that I've been able to make readers "see" Ireland the way I do, and now they want to visit. It's worth the trip!


  1. sounds yummy Sheila! and congrats on the strong sales!

    1. Thank you! I'm amazed--but then, I think everyone should love Ireland.

  2. This chowder sounds so perfect. It's minus 50 here, colder with the wind chill. ; ) Chowder would certainly hit the spot!

  3. How exciting! My copy of your new book just arrived.

    This chowder sounds lovely. But why "seafood" but not fish as an ingredient?
    How clever to find a package of mixed seafood AND the perfect size, too!

    1. Libby, you could certainly use fish, but you might want to cook it briefly before you toss it in. The nice thing about the package was that it was pre-cooked, so I could just open it and let it heat through.

      I forgot to add that you could also use cream or half-and-half instead or, or along with the milk.

      The same company, or one much like it, also makes quick-frozen packages of mussels, out of the shell. Great to keep in the freezer if you want a quick dish with pasta or rice. (I'm a late convert to mussels--when I was growing up, they were these things with sharp shells that grew on dock pilings, along with barnacles.)

  4. Congratulations on your book! Your pun was funny! The chowder looks terrific! Thanks for the recipe.