Savour Cacique | NEW PROVIDENCE CONCH CHOWDER
Last time we hung out with island-hopping-culinary-explorer Monica Hutchinson, she speared us some Grouper, wrapped it in banana leaves & toasted coconut pesto, and DJ’d the party with our tastebuds! In this episode of Savour Cacique, Monica is back with a unique fusion of fresh island flavours and soul-warming New England chowder-ness.
This is an exciting time for Nassau’s growing food scene, with culinary visionaries like Monica pushing the boundaries of nouveau-Bahamian fare. While there’s still ample opportunity to chow down on traditional Conch Chowder, Monica dares us to pick up our spear and seek out new culinary adventures…
New England Meet New Providence
Cacique. What inspired this dish? Is there a story behind it ?
Monica. This dish is a play on New England Clam Chowder. It is cream-based, unlike the traditional tomato-based Bahamian conch chowder. Conch lends well to this type of dish because it pairs so nicely with the cream - just fat on fat! I tenderize the conch with a meat grinder. To me, this is the most important step. Not only does this ensure tender pieces of conch, it promises you get conch in every bite! It makes the chowder super “conchy” which is what I look for in a chowder - a nice consistency and as much conch as your spoon can accommodate!
C. What’s Bahamian about it? Where are the main ingredients from ?
M. Of course, you can't get any more Bahamian than conch! That is the key, local ingredient. But, I think the addition of thyme is also critical. Thyme is used a lot in Bahamian cuisine to give a homely island flavour. I add Bahamian goat pepper which gives it a nice kick but will not over-power the taste. The cream also rounds the dish, calming the pepper which gives it a nice balance. And then of course, you have the Johnny Cake, which I make into croutons - this warm, buttery, cake-like bread is the quintessential Bahamian accompaniment to any souse (soup), grits dish or chowder.
Conch Chowder Reimagined
1/5 lb. potatoes, peeled, medium dice
1 pound conch, meat grinder
goat pepper, cook in half
2 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper to taste
For the Conch chowder:
1/5 cup onion, small dice
1/5 cup carrots, small dice
1/5 cup celery, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup AP flour
3 cups chicken stock
For Johnny cake croutons:
2 cups diced johnny cake
2 ounces butter, melted
1 ounce thyme
pinch of cayenne
salt & pepper to taste
Steps to savour
Cut Johnny bread into cubes and toss with butter, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper and toast in the oven until golden brown.
Sauté the mirepoix for 5 minutes in olive oil.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
Add the flour and stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, potatoes, conch meat and thyme and goat pepper. Let it simmer and cook for about 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Top with johnny cake croutons and serve.
C. So, would you say this a re-make of Bahamian Conch chowder or a twist on new england clam chowder ?
M. I would say it’s a fusion, resulting in something truly unique. The dish is inspired by traditional Bahamian Conch Chowder, but has distinctive qualities of a traditional New England Clam Chowder. You get the island freshness, along with the heart-warming creaminess of the Boston favourite. It’s a merging of two dishes, both delicious in their own way, and even more so when they are put together!
C. What exciting new ventures are on your culinary horizon ?
M. Currently, I'm working on an exciting project for a new speakeasy-style bar in Nassau. I'm creating their food menu and what's exciting is that the menu will be short, but thorough, which is great because I’m able to focus on making sure that all the food pairs well with the amazing artisanal cocktails they will be offering. You know, as a freelance Chef I'm always working on different projects and each job is as exciting as it is different. That's a big reason why I love what I do - it never gets boring…especially with Cacique!
C. Absolutely Monica! Looking forward to our next culinary adventure!
Savour Cacique |Culinary Experiences
Here at Cacique, we love to push boundaries - be it art, music, tableware or the culinary experience. That is why we are always on the look out for fresh new talent, with whom we can re-imagine classic cocktails and dishes. For enquiries about Cacique Culinary Experiences - tailor-made to wow the most discerning of palettes - please feel free to contact us.
Looking forward to the next one! SMS ;)