- 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound Oyster Root
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
The “mock” in this Mock Oyster Chowder is dandelion root – oyster root. Those little fluff-balls growing by the side of the road hold a bit of magic – a root that tastes like oysters when cooked. Otherwise known as oyster plant or salsify, oyster root imparts the most amazing and delicious oyster flavor to this mock oyster chowder.
Oyster root is one of those things that fell right into my philosophy to chew adventurously. I first ran across it in a farmer’s market during the Food and Wine festival in Santa Fe and thought, “OK, I got to have me some of that.” Wash it, peel it like a carrot, cut it into medallions and use it in any number of cooked dishes that call for oysters. The wonderful thing about oyster root is that the oyster flavor is distinct enough to satisfy oyster lovers, subtle enough not to offend oyster haters and vegan enough to avoid any PETA concerns, shell-fish allergies, Kosher or any other religious or dietary issues. In effect, it is the perfect “mock” for this mock oyster chowder.
One thing you will hear me say over and over – save your rendered bacon fat. There is so much goodness in rendered bacon fat that can be used in a host of recipes. This mock oyster chowder is a great example. Bacon fat aside, there are only six ingredients to this chowder and bacon is a perfect marriage for each of them; especially the flavor of oyster. Wait until just before serving to add salt. The salt content of bacon fat can vary depending on the bacon from which the fat was rendered.
For the potatoes, I like Yukon Golds but if you have Russet potatoes on hand, those will work just fine. You want to avoid red potatoes. Red potatoes hold their shape making them an excellent option for stews and roasting. However, we want the potatoes to almost completely break down creating the thick heartiness of a chowder and reds just will not do the trick.
- Peal and cut potatoes into thumb-sized cubes.
- Put the rendered bacon fat in heavy 3 or 4-quart pot over a medium heat and add potatoes, celery and onion stirring often. You want to keep everything moving in the pot so that nothing starts to brown or take on color.
- When the potatoes start to break down and the onions have become translucent, add chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes have almost completely broken down. You will need keep an eye on it and stir often to make sure nothing sticks as your chowder thickens up.
- While that’s cooking down, wash your Oyster Root well and peel like a carrot discarding both ends. Dice into rounds about 1/4 inch thick and add to the chowder after the potatoes have broken down and cook for about 15 minutes or just until the Oyster Root is tender but not at all mushy.
- Add cream and return just to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.