How to Make It
In a large pot, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pot. Add the rosemary and chiles to the pot and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery, onion and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Scrape the roux into the soup and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender and the soup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer.
Add the oysters and bacon to the soup and simmer until the oysters are just cooked, about 3 minutes. Spoon the chowder into deep bowls and serve with Tabasco.
The recipe can be made through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Return to a simmer before proceeding.
Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams are available at bentonscountryhams2.com.