Special Request: Robust's Chowder Has 'Nice Heat'

By Kellogg, Alanna | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 2, 2014 | Go to article overview

Special Request: Robust's Chowder Has 'Nice Heat'


Kellogg, Alanna, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Q * I met a friend for lunch at Robust and was wowed by the chowder. It has a zippy aftertaste I can't get out of my head. Helen Fletcher, University City

A * "Our chowder has nice heat," says Robust Wine Bar's executive chef Joseph "Joe" Hemp V. "Not a lot, just enough to let you know it's there." Customers love Robust's chowder, he says, and Robust chefs make a huge batch every other day during summer and some times twice a day during cold weather.

Chowder is on the menu at all three Robust locations: the original neighborhood gathering spot in Webster Groves; a chic downtown restaurant just east of America's Center; and a third new location in Edwardsville with a lively patio.

Each wine bar has its own "personality," Hemp says. Meat and cheese boards and small plates "fly out of the kitchen" at all three sites, popular with those who want a little nosh with a glass of wine. But downtown's convention-goer traffic expects a more traditional meal and an entre-style plate.

Developing menu items that work for all three locations is a little tricky. Not only do clientele expectations vary, the kitchens are much different. Hemp laughs, "We say that Webster has a 'closet' for a kitchen, downtown a full kitchen and Edwardsville something in between." Hemp's personal favorite is a half chicken roasted in cast iron (downtown and Edwardsville only). "It's a nice humble dish with lots of flavor." For summer, he recommends the BLT and Greek salads.

To re-create Robust's Chowder, home cooks should choose a large pot, larger than might seem needed. "You really want to be able to get in there and stir from the bottom," Hemp says.

Robust's Webster Groves and Edwardsville restaurants will be closed on July 4th.

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ROBUST

Three locations, Webster Groves, downtown and Edwardsville

robustwinebar.com

ROBUST CHOWDER

Yield: 16 (1-cup) servings

1 quart whole milk

1 quart heavy cream

4 tablespoons ( stick) butter

cup vegetable oil

pound chorizo, diced (see notes)

pound andouille, diced (see notes)

large yellow onion, diced small

1 rib celery, diced small

red bell pepper, diced small

green pepper, diced small

poblano chile, diced small

5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced small

teaspoon garlic powder

teaspoon ground cumin

teaspoon ground thyme

teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon salt

tablespoon black pepper

1 pound 71-90 count shrimp, shelled

1 cup Cup4Cup flour or all-purpose flour (see notes)

1 cup frozen corn

Crostini, for serving

Notes: Robust uses house-made chorizo and andouille from G&W Bavarian Style Sausage Co. …

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