Monday, December 10, 2012

Fishing for ideas to avoid wasting food

Ordinarily I’m writing about dishes we make with the meat we raise here on the farm, or garden veggies we raise, or some combo thereof . . . this is a little different tack, as it involves fish, which we don’t raise OR catch.

Our neighbor, who is an avid fisherman and hunter, gifted us with a large bag of frozen coho salmon. I thawed out this monster portion of fish with trepidation – we love fish, particularly salmon, but this was about 3 pounds or so of fish – could have fed six people! We had a meal using two of the smaller filets that came out of the thawed pile, but there were two enormous chunks – probably 1 ½ - 2# of filets that I had cooked and then wondered what to do with. I have never before made chowder, but I like it, so I looked up a bunch of recipes for fish chowder, making mental notes about things that sounded good to me. Here (approximately) is what I put together, which turned out to be a quite-savory fish chowder. Darrell whipped up a batch of his corn muffins that incorporate more of our good garden corn – warm from the oven, they were a great complement to the chowder!

Fish Chowder
1.5 – 2 # cooked fish (salmon, some sort of white fish, whatever you have), deboned and broken into bite-sized chunks
4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
2 medium to large carrots, cut into chunks
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove, or teaspoon of chopped garlic from a jar
1.5 quarts of chicken broth (or, if you have or want to make fish stock . . . )
¼ # or so of fresh salt pork, cut into small pieces
1 package of frozen corn, or one can of corn (I used frozen corn from our garden)
1 – 2 Tbs of dried oregano (to taste)
1 – 2 Tbs of dried parsley (to taste)
Couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce (to taste)
1 good dash of Worchestershire sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 Tbs flour
3 Tbs butter

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, on low heat, brown the salt pork until crispy. Add the chopped onion and celery and sauté until tender; add the chopped garlic and sauté for about another minute.

Add the broth or stock, stirring to loosen up the bits from browning the salt pork. Add the chunks of potatoes and carrots, the corn, oregano, parsley, salt & pepper, Worchester sauce, and Tabasco sauce (careful with this, as it’s spicy hot and you can always add more). Simmer this until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add in the chunks of fish and keep on the heat for a little while more just to release the fish flavor into the rest of the mixture.  If you want to eat this right away, go on to the finishing steps, but most chowder recipes reference that it's better the next day. I refrigerated this overnight at this point, then did the finishing step the next day to have a hearty lunch on a cold day.

Finishing: (Begin re-heating the chowder while you do this step)
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan; slowly add flour to make a roux. Stirring constantly to prevent lumps, add the milk and cook until it begins to thicken.
Add this flour/milk thickener to your heating chowder and stir in well. Add the heavy cream and stir in well.
Reheat the chowder on a low to medium heat to just bubbling, stirring frequently to keep the creamy broth from sticking. Serve hot. This recipe should serve 5 – 6 people.