Having married into a New England family, I know to leave chowdah to the experts. But an opportunity presented itself in the form of 22 lbs of sockeye salmon, sustainably harvested out of Bristol Bay, Alaska, and now tucked away in our freezer thanks to a neighborhood purchasing co-op. Unless you’ve been charged with feeding a small army, this situation calls for fast diversification of your recipe portfolio.

A recent cooking problem went like this: leftover roast salmon, rapidly aging corn on the cob, wrinkly potatoes. I floated the chowder idea to the husband, who pointedly refuses foods such as lobstah when prepared so far from home. But he didn’t immediately nix the plan, and this creamy, herby chowder was the delicious result. Bonus, it was a hit with the Biscuit, who has also diversified her portfolio of late.

The recipe looks more complicated than it really is, and experience may yet simplify it. For starters:

Creamy Salmon Chowder

4 thick strips bacon / 4 medium-sized waxy potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes / 1 clove garlic, minced / 2 shallots, minced / 1 ear fresh corn, kernels stripped, or 1 cup frozen / 1 bay leaf / 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves / hot pepper to taste / 1 cup clam juice (optional) / 1 cup heavy cream / 1 lb salmon fillets, skinned and cut into chunks / whole milk if needed / salt & pepper / 1 tbls fresh dill, chopped / 1 tbls fresh chives, chopped / 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Heat a heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Render bacon until just crisp, then remove bacon to a paper towel. Pour out all but 1 tbls bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium and add diced potatoes, garlic, and shallots, and cook, stirring, until flavors are released, about 4 minutes. Add clam juice if using, 3 cups water, and corn cobs if available, plus bay leaf, thyme, hot pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook on low until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove corn cobs and squeeze juices back into the pot.

Add cream and salmon and cook gently for 5 minutes on medium low heat. Don’t let the liquid boil. Add corn kernels and continue at a simmer until salmon is just cooked through, 3-5 minutes more. Thin chowder to desired consistency with whole milk, if you wish. Remove bay leaf. Stir in dill, chives, and lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Feeds 4. Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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