An easy recipe for seafood chowder with sausage and lobster arancini from Chef Erin Henry at Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Last month I was invited to judge the chowder competition at the PEI International Shellfish Festival. It is one of the biggest festivals on PEI. It is also an amazing time of the year to visit. Weather is fantastic and there are no crowds.
And this job was perfect for ME! I grew up eating my grandmother’s Nova Scotia chowder every Friday but in Toronto it’s tough to find any chowder at all, unless Loka is serving this potato mussel chowder recipe.
I love chowder.
In the Maritimes every locals restaurant will have chowder. It’s common to have a cup of chowder and a half sandwich as a lunch option. But not everywhere has great chowder. You have to know where to go.
I have no preference over a thick or thin chowder. It’s all about flavour and consistency. So I was so excited to try the best chowder on PEI. Over two days I tried 16 different chowders, and while in Prince Edward Island I tried 5 more on my own.
Did I mention I love chowder?
Chef Erin Henry has won the competition in previous years. She’s originally from New Brunswick but has lived on Prince Edward Island for 12 years. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada, she staged at the Michelin- starred Gravetye Manor, competed in culinary competitions in Europe and now works at Piatto Pizzeria and Enoteca.
While she didn’t win I really loved what she did and asked for the recipe. Chowder is an inexpensive rustic dish that traditionally uses seafood scraps to make a meal at home.
In fact, in the Maritimes it’s possible to buy “chowder mix” in the grocery store seafood department. It’s just a bag of leftover scraps of fish, seafood and if you’re lucky some shrimp or lobster. From there you add the onion, carrots, celery, potato, cream and seasoning.
When I moved to Toronto I searched high and low for seafood chowder mix but none of the fishmongers knew was it was. That can make seafood chowder much more expensive.
The presentation is beautiful. It took this rustic dish and gave it a new look that anyone in Toronto would rave about.
And Chef Erin didn’t forget the lobster. It’s in the arancini (fried stuffed rice ball). While she’s the chef of an Italian restaurant she knows in the Maritimes it’s important to serve seafood chowder with something. .
At a very basic East Coast restaurant you’ll get saltine crackers or maybe a roll, somewhere a bit nicer will make fresh biscuits. It makes sense at an Italian restaurant you’d get arancini.
This would be incredible at a dinner party to make in advance. I hope that Piatto considers serving this dish, at least as a special, because it’s really delicious and I’d love to eat it again.
PEI Seafood Chowder with an Italian Twist
NB: I’ve made minor changes to some of the wording in this seafood chowder recipe to be more understandable for home cooks. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment.
This recipe is long. Don’t stress out. It’s a long but easy recipe.
Chef Erin was so thorough with the instructions on how to make the arancini. But you can do this in stages. Make the risotto, pesto and the first three steps of thechowder the night before. The next day make the arancini, finish the chowder and serve to guests.
Can’t find seafood stock and don’t want to make it? Substitute vegetable stock.
If you make this seafood chowder leave a comment to let me know how it went!
Disclosure: Tourism PEI sponsored my visit to Prince Edward Island. I was so excited to come out to judge the competition and asked to stay longer to write a guide to seafood on the island. They did not request that I write this seafood chowder post, I just couldn’t leave the island without the recipe.
Other Seafood Chowders and Soups You’ll Love