Years of experimenting produces spicy chowder
I grew up in Florida eating from the ocean: clams, lobster, oysters, shrimp, crab and fish.
In 1975, my fiancé, Dan Dannahower, and I flew his plane to Green Turtle Cay in Abaco, Bahama. We dove for conch almost every day, came back to our cottage and prepared chowder. I fashioned my first recipe after my dad’s favorite Manhattan Clam Chowder.
Dan was a United Airlines pilot and we lived in Denver, Colorado, for 20 years. On my trips home to Florida, I would bring back conch meat and started experimenting with the recipe to suit my husband’s taste. While in Denver, I hosted a gourmet dinner club event that had a tropical theme and it was then that I created this version of conch chowder, which was from a compilation of several recipes.
Conch is a tropical marine mollusk with a shell that comes to a noticeable point at both ends. In North America, a conch is often identified as a queen conch, indigenous to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. The meat is very tough and must be ground. It can be purchased at the New England Fish Market in Jensen Beach and Palm City. Or you can grind it on your own using a KitchenAid mixer with a grinder attachment or an old-fashioned metal grinder.
Sue’s Bahamian Conch Chowder
1 large can spicy V8 tomato juice [46 ounces]
2 8-ounce bottles clam juice
3 10-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with juice
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
½ red or green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup lime juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 pound bacon, diced, browned, and drained
1 to 1½ pounds raw conch, ground
Place all ingredients, except conch, in a large stockpot. Cook on medium-low heat until all vegetables are tender [approximately 20 minutes]. Add conch and cook for five minutes. Serve warm with extra Tabasco sauce and oyster crackers. Serves: 10-12
Note: This recipe freezes well for up to 3 months.