Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chowder Love

Are you sad, lonely, depressed? Are you terribly unlovable?  Luckily for you - you happened across this post.  I have the cure for that.  I am quite comfortable diagnosing you with a tendency toward looking for love in all the wrong spices (yep, I went there).  The pot of deliciousness you will have as a result of using this recipe will make anyone (who is not lactose intolerant) love you (or they're stupid and don't deserve your love).

As the youngest of five, having grown up in a family where dinner was the meal preceded by my sister Faith, and I banging our spoons on our glasses and shrieking "Ding-a-ling-ding-ding time for DINNER" at the top of our lungs.  The food was never anything fancy - stews, meatloaf, quiche, hotdogs and beans, boiled dinners (we are true New Englanders at heart); more often than not the vegetables were canned (50/50 home grown and canned or grocery store stuff), and what could be, was purchased in bulk.

One of my FAVORITE meals growing up was fish chowder, and a few years ago, I realized I'd never made it for my daughter.  I emailed Mom and Faith, and both were surprised that I would ask - because chowder is so EASY.  Regardless of the easiness, neither was able to provide me with a workable recipe.

I did some googling, and all the recipes I found were baffling, and didn't sound remotely like the stuff we ate growing up.  The worst was when I came across recipes for Manhattan chowder which is RED (FYI - chowder should be a creamy color with little spots of golden buttery goodness on top).

Luckily, I found a publication at work - Recipe Ideas for Thrifty Families - I got the printed copy - but if you click on that link - you get the whole thing as a PDF for free.  The recipes are all good new england stuff - simple and delicious - and, yes, thrifty :)

Page 15 has the fish chowder recipe I used.  The first couple of times, I used that recipe exactly, but since it has evolved into my own recipe, which I will try to get down right for you:

  • 1 - Medium Onion
  • 2 tbsp - Butter 
  • 4-5 decent size (a fist?) good potatoes - I prefer Yukon Gold, but you can go with whatever you want
  • 1 lb fish (I go to the grocery store and get "chowder mix" - which usually includes only haddock, but sometimes there's some salmon in there too) - you can use more fish if you want.  The original recipe calls for Cod or something like that - but if you ask me it's nowhere near as good
  • 4 cups water 
  • 2 12 oz cans of evaporated milk - the original recipe calls for 2 cups of water, and fresh milk - but  chowder is WAY better if you use the evaporated stuff - much creamier
  • 1 can of corn - anything other than creamed corn - I like the niblets
  • Salt - a pinch, and then a decent amount to taste when it's finished
  • Pepper - to taste
  • Mince up your onions teeny tiny, and throw them in a saute pan with your butter until they reach that gorgeous translucent stage - you will most likely start drooling before they hit perfection.  
  • Peel your potatoes and cut them into bite size pieces - 3/4 inch cube-ish - you can leave the skin on - but keep in mind that, unless your potatoes are organic, they do generally retain a lot of the toxins from any pesticides in their skin
  • Throw the potatoes & butter/onion mix in to a decent size pot with the water, and a pinch of salt (a pinch of salt is literally that - stick your fingers in and pull out a pinch - otherwise, maybe 1/4 tsp?  Not much - just enough to get it boiling faster) - sometimes I'll pop just a few small bits of fish in the water when I first mix it all together, I have no idea if it makes any difference to the recipe - but probably no more than an ounce of the smaller bits of fish
  • Bring the mixture to a boil - and simmer on medium/low for about 15 minutes
  • Throw in the can of corn (be sure to include the water from the can)
  • While this mix simmers together, cut your fish up into 1-inch-ish size pieces - Be sure to scrape off any pesky skin that might be stuck to it, and keep your eyes/fingers on the alert for any bones that might be hiding
  • Check that your potatoes are cooked all the way through (super easy to check - pull the biggest piece of potato you see out with a spoon, then poke it with a fork, if the fork slides right through it - the potatoes are fully cooked.  If needed, repeat until you are positive they're all cooked through, and you've got a good idea of how delicious they will be.  This is a good chance to add a bit more salt, if you're of a mind to - it all depends on taste.
  • When the potatoes are cooked through - throw all of your fish in - bring it back up to a boil, and cook on medium for about five minutes - your fish is done when it's gone from a semi-transparent gross raw look to a beautiful solid fully cooked look.  If you aren't sure what I mean - google it. The fish will also turn flaky when it's cooked, so try whomping some of it with a fork in the pot.
  • When the fish is finished, throw in your cans of evaporated milk, and that's it! 
Your chowder is going to be okay; chowder is always fine the day you make it.  I suggest having fresh biscuits or rolls (with real butter) with it.  I PROMISE  you that it will be better the next day (unless you forget to put it in the fridge, then avoid it). The flavors will mingle, and your tongue and stomach will be so very happy.

Some other things you can do:
  • Add carrots
  • Leave out the fish and just have corn chowder (which is one of the best last minute meals a parent can have in their arsenal
  • Add clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, lobster, etc. pretty much any seafood will be a great addition to this.
The next time I make chowder I'll try to get a picture of the perfect onions, and when fish is cooked to add to this, so you don't have to resort to googling.


Susan McNerney said...

Jessy's Mom here. I put the cut up potatoes in with the onions for a couple of minutes. Next put the onions and potatoes in a soup pot and barely cover with water-put the fish on top and simmer until potatoes are cooked. Add the corn and evap. milk. I've also cooked a couple of pieces of bacon and cooked the onions in with it.

parfums said...

Nice blog
Parfum pas cher

Faith said...

Ding a ling ding time for SUPPER not DINNER!!! My goodness gracious.