This dish represents our attempt to feature the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay all in one bowl. Obviously, it would be impossible to include all of the wonderful food products, grown and harvested from the Delmarva Peninsula. This chowder does include some of the more notable products. Chesapeake fish, crabmeat and shellfish, Silver Queen corn and Virginia ham are included. You can leave out the cream if you like and replace it with more fish stock or water. It will not be as rich, but the flavor will be fine.
The concept with this chowder is to utilize local food products. You can substitute Chincoteague oysters for Blue Points or Kumamoto or even use clams. Cod, halibut or even salmon can replace the rockfish. Use whatever products are local, fresh and in season.
Shuck the oysters and strain the liquor through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve oysters and liquid separately.
In a saute pan, add the butter and heat until bubbling. Add the leeks, onions, shallots, and thyme and cook until transparent. In a separate large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Lower the heat, add the flour and cook the "roux" for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the fish stock, clam juice, oyster liquor, white wine, potatoes, and Virginia ham. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked leek-onion mixture and reduce all by 1/4. Add the corn and cook for 4 minutes. Add the cream, sherry, and hot sauce and cook 4 more minutes, stirring so as not to scorch. Add the rockfish, crabmeat and oysters and cook a minute or two. Check salt and pepper, noting that the ham is very salty so the chowder won't need much.
Serve in 6 warm soup terrines and garnish with the chopped chives. Serve with corn breadsticks or common crackers.
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