Editor’s Note: RFT’s Ski & Dive Editor, Yvette Cardozo, fell in love with Conch (pronounced “conk”) Chowder when she lived in Florida. Yvette writes:
Delicious conch chowder is a signature Florida Keys dish. It’s served with conch, a tropical marine mollusk with a spiral shell and flared lip, and potatoes, vegetables and more.
Recipe courtesy Recipes and Tall Tales from Legendary Restaurants of the Florida Keys by Robert Stoky.
½ lb bacon cut in ½ inch slices
2 onions diced
2 lbs conch, ground (can substitute any whitefish, shrimp, clams)
1 green pepper diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 large potatoes, diced
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
4 bay leaves
1 Tbs oregano
3 Tbs thyme
1 Tbs allspice (optional)
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pale dry sherry to taste
Place bacon and onions in 4 quart pot and saute until onions are soft. Add ground conch, green peppers, celery and continue to saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and reduce heat to simmer. Add water or clam juice throughout the cooking process as necessary to keep the cowder thick but not too thick. Simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally until potatoes are soft. Sherry is added as a splash after chowder is served. Serve with hot sauce on the side.