Fish chowder with saffron

(Jonathan Levitt for The Boston Globe)
July 13, 2011

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Serves 4

2 pounds skinless, boneless cod, hake, haddock, or cusk
6 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 leek (white part only) quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon saffron
4 medium red potatoes, cut into bite-size wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon pimenton or regular sweet paprika
4 thick slices crusty bread, toasted or grilled until golden

1. In a soup pot, combine the fish, water, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and let the liquid bubble gently for 7 minutes or until the flesh turns opaque and flakes easily with a fork. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fish to a plate. Keep the broth in the pot.

2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, render the bacon until it begins to release some of its fat. Add the leek, onion, garlic, and saffron. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Do not let them brown.

3. Add the bacon mixture to the broth with the potatoes. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

4. With a fork, flake the fish into large pieces. Add the fish to the potato mixture. Return to a simmer. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. When the chowder is hot, remove it from the heat, and let the flavors steep for 5 minutes.

5. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with parsley, chives, and pimenton. Serve with bread. Jonathan Levitt