Oyster Chowder with Bacon, Corn, and Fennel
One of the easiest ways to cook oysters is to slip them out of their shells and into quick-cooking soups, stews, and chowders. This one—a creamy, flourless chowder with fresh corn, crispy bacon, and some of the oysters’ natural juices—is the type of iconic summer recipe that should get tacked to the refrigerator door.
What You Will Need
- 1 trimmed medium fennel bulb, outermost layer peeled and discarded
- 3 thick slices bacon (5 oz.)
- 1⁄2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (½ cup)
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (½ cup)
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced into 1/3-inch cubes
- 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 tsp.)
- 3⁄4 cup dry white wine
- 1⁄2 cup fresh oyster brine or bottled clam juice
- 1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Corn from 1 fresh cob (about ⅔ cup)
- 18 medium, briny oysters, shucked
- Dill or fennel fronds, for garnish
- Oyster crackers or crusty bread
- Slice the fennel bulb in half lengthwise, then very thinly slice each half. Set aside.
- In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, add the bacon slices. Cook, turning as needed, until well-browned and crispy, 10–12 minutes. Remove the slices, but leave the fat in the pan. Add the fennel, onion, carrot, potato, and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Pour in the wine and oyster or clam juice and boil for 1 minute. Turn down the heat to a light simmer and stir in the cream, followed by the whole milk, kosher salt, and a generous pinch of black pepper; let simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes (do not boil or the dairy might curdle). Add the corn and chop the oysters into bite-size pieces. Add the oysters and let cook until they are firmed slightly, about 3 minutes. Break the bacon up into small pieces and stir half of it into the chowder. Ladle into bowls and top with dill and the remaining bacon.