Last Sunday night, the pork dude did seafood. Chef Hanis Cavin, owner with wife Sara Stroud of Carnitas Snack Shack and the new Smokehouse Kings, is known and revered for all things porcine in San Diego. But long before he make pigs his purview, he had a long and distinguished career as a fine dining chef at places like Mixx, Pacifica Del Mar, the Kensington Grill, Dakota Grill, and Chive. Trained at the New England Culinary Institute, he earned the Chef of the Year award in 2009 from the California Restaurant Association and was recently inducted into the San Diego Home/Garden Chef's Hall of Fame.
All this is to say that the guy behind the Shack is no culinary one-note. And this was oh so clear Sunday night at Collaboration Kitchen, where he showed the audience how to make dishes such as SoNo Habanero Mustard-Crusted White Sea Bass in Cheerios Dust with Tomato Gastrique and Red Pepper Confit, Chicharon-Crusted Wahoo Milanese with Stone Fruit Compote on Arugula in Lemon Oil, and what I'm going to share with you here, Crab Meatball with Yukon Gold Potatoes and Lardons in New England Chowder.
The dish is fairly simple to make but packed with surf-and-turf flavor. All of six ingredients make up the crab balls, which are sauteed before being added to the chowder, which also has minimal ingredients--just very good ones. It would be a Cavin dish without some sort of porcine ingredient and here it takes the form of bacon lardons, which Hanis assured everyone was nothing fancy, just thick cut slices of bacon. The Yukon potatoes, once diced and added to the soup, become tender and add heartiness.
So, here it is, courtesy of Hanis:
Crab Meatball/Yukon/Lardoons/"New England" Chowder
from Hanis Cavin
Makes 4 dinner-size portions or 8 appetizer-size portions
1/2 pound crab, finely chopped
1/2 pound ground white fish
1 whole egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh shallot, chopped fine
1/4 cup diced onion
2 strips extra thick bacon cut in 1/8-inch pieces
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups clam juice
2 cups cream
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon canola
For the crab meatball:
Mix together the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Form into one-ounce balls and place on a cold sheet pan into the refrigerator for one hour or overnight.
For the chowder:
Saute the bacon and onion in the canola oil until cooked thoroughly. Add flour to create a roux over low to medium heat. It should reach a wet sand-like consistency in about five minutes. Add all the liquid and vegetables and cook on low to medium heat until the potatoes are almost tender. Saute the crab meatballs until browned. Add the balls to the chowder and cook for five to eight minutes.
Pour chowder into bowls.