submitted by Chapel Hill customer, Susan Whitney
- 1⁄4 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery hearts
- 3 white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups) Russets work well
- 14 to 16 large oysters and their liquor (or 1 pint jarred oysters)
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Olive oil and butter
- 2⁄3 to 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
Spread bacon in a soup pan and place over medium heat. Cook until browned and fat has rendered. Drain and reserve bacon. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat and put pan back on the heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and butter as needed – I find that the bacon fat is not enough to cook the celery and onion in. Add the onion and celery to the pan and cook until softened. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover, about 2-3 cups. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. (I find it takes a little longer.)
Take the pan off the heat and, using a masher, lightly crush a few of the potatoes to thicken the chowder. Add the oysters and oyster liquor and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a rolling simmer until the oysters curl, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the milk (use 2/3 cup if you prefer it less rich), bring to a high simmer, and cook about 5-10 minutes. Serve in warm bowls. Crumble bacon and sprinkle parsley on top.
Note: if you let it sit for about a half hour and reheat, the flavors meld.