Bacon, shrimp and Old Bay are the secrets to big flavor in Rach's thick and creamy Cajun Shrimp Chowder.
Rach's Tip: To make fortified stock, toast shrimp tails and shells if you are processing shrimp yourself and deveining. Add 1 quart chicken stock or bone broth and 2 cups water, simmer to combine flavor of shrimp shells. Strain to use in recipe.
- 1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil
- ½ pound meaty bacon, chopped
- 2 ½ pounds medium-large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, or a palmful
- 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 pound white or yellow small thin-skinned potatoes, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups corn kernels or fire-roasted corn kernels from freezer section of market
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced, chopped or grated
- One handful picked thyme (or about 2 tablespoons), chopped
- ¼ cup hot sauce (Rach's go-to is Frank's RedHot)
- About 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 quart chicken stock, fortified stock or seafood stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Thinly sliced scallions, sliced on a bias, or finely chopped chives, to serve
- Oyster crackers, crushed saltines or Ritz/butter crackers, to serve
Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with oil, 1 turn of the pan, add bacon and render, then remove when crisp. Add shrimp and season with Old Bay, lightly brown 3 minutes, then remove to bacon plate. Add celery, onions, peppers and potatoes, then season with salt, pepper, and bay leaf, partially cover and soften 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour, corn, garlic and thyme, stir to combine. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire and stock, bring to boil and reduce heat a bit, then keep at low boil 5 minutes. Add cream, combine, add back shrimp and bacon, heat through, then remove bay. Serve chowder in bowls and top with scallions or chives and crackers of choice.