You know, sometimes it's the little things: The fresh raspberries with a slice of chocolate cake, or a dollop of kashk on top of Ash-e Reshteh (my Persians will get this). Sometimes it is the oyster crackers on top of a hot seafood chowder… homemade Oyster Crackers that is!
Autumn is trying to break through here in Oklahoma City; I can feel it. You know me and the weather when it comes to food, so on one of those "it kind of feels like fall" days here in OKC, a rich, creamy chowder sounded like the perfect lunch. I then realized that I have never made oyster crackers; Until now.
These are tasty, they're super easy to make, and addictive once baked. Use your imagination to flavor in various ways (herbs, "Ranch," cheese). I gave you the base; it's up to you for the rest.
Oh… and there's also my “Seafood Chowder” recipe too if needed. Enjoy!
Homemade Oyster Crackers - makes approximately 100 dime size crackers.
1 cup + 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon In The Kitchen With Scotty "Cook's Line Seasoning" or Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon ice water
In a food processor (you may also use a mixing bowl and your fingers or pastry cutter) add the flour, Cook's Line Seasoning or salt, and the baking powder. Give the processor a pulse or three to combine the ingredients.
Add the cubed butter and pulse to "cut-in" the butter; Pulse to a coarse meal texture (think pie pastry). Next, add the water and again pulse until the dough clumps into larger pieces.
Turn the crumbled dough out onto a lightly floundered surface, and form into a ball, without overworking the dough. Cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Now, for cutting the small crackers: Find something in your kitchen the is small and round, or square, or any shape you like; something dime or nickel size. I happened to use one of my cake decorating tips, dipped in flour that worked well. Sauce caps would work too!
Roll your dough out on a well-floured surface to approximately 1/8" thick, and begin cutting out the shapes. Pierce the center of each cracker so that the small crackers hold their round shape and do not "pillow." I reversed the frosting tip that I was using as a cut-out and pierced the centers with the star tip.
Add the cut and pieced crackers to the lined sheet pan, allowing each cracker their own space. Depending on the size of your "small" sheet pan, you may have to bake the crackers in batches.
Place the pan in the preheated oven, and bake 14-16 minutes or until dry and lightly golden.
Allow the oyster crackers to cool completely before storing and/or covering. Of course, dumping them all into the middle of a hot bowl of chowder is perfectly acceptable too.
Seafood Chowder - basically (my version) Clam Chowder if you do not add the other "seafood."
6 ounces salt pork, cubed (you may substitute thick slab bacon)
3 - 6.5-ounce cans minced clams with juice
1 cup small diced onion
1 cup small-diced carrots
1 cup small-diced celery
2 cups small diced, golden potatoes
In The Kitchen With Scotty "Cook's Line Seasoning" or salt and black pepper
1-2 teaspoons fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup flour for a roux
8-ounce clam juice
4-ounce lump crab meat
6 ounces cooked shrimp, rough chopped (reserve a few whole pieces for garnish if desired)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
In a cold frying pan add the cubed salt pork or bacon. Begin to heat gently to render the fat and crisp the pork. You may need to add a little cooking oil if your salt pork is lean. Cook the pork until crisp and remove to a paper towel to collect any extra fat. Leave around one tablespoon of the fat in the pan.
To the pan, and one tablespoon of butter to the pork fat and melt-in. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Toss in the pork fat and butter, and cook 5 minutes.
Open the cans of minced clams, draining the juice into the pan on top of the vegetables. Set the minced clams aside. Season lightly with the Cook's Line Seasoning (or salt and pepper), nutmeg, and fresh thyme. Cover the pan and let everything simmer gently for ten minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
In a separate pan combine 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix into a roux and cook gently for 5 minutes.
Pour the 1-quart of half-and-half along with the 8 ounces of clam juice into the tender vegetable pan. Begin to heat. Add the cooked roux to the pan while gently stirring. Cook the chowder until thickened. If the chowder is too thick, add milk to a desired creamy consistency.
Before serving, add the minced clams, lump crab meat, and chopped shrimp to the chowder. Stir in 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar for extra flavor. Heat through and taste for any additional seasoning.
Label the chowder into large bowls. Top with the cooked salt pork or bacon, add a whole shrimp if desired, along with a good handful of your homemade oyster crackers.