GREAT LAKES CHOWDER
Serves 6 to 8
Did you know that soup is one of the best ways to use frozen fish? Filets of lake trout, whitefish, perch, walleye, or salmon can go straight from the freezer to the pot and poach while cooking. Once the fish is cooked enough that it just begins to flake apart with a fork, it’s ready to eat. But there’s one critical rule. The most important step to any frozen fish recipe is making sure that your catch goes into the freezer the day it is caught, not days later because you haven’t used it yet. The next time you go charter fishing, set aside what you can truly use while it is fresh but then give yourself permission to freeze 1-pound batches of the rest—knowing you can make this gorgeous Fresh Coast chowder all year long. —Stacey Brugeman
- 4 thick-cut slices of bacon (about 6 ounces) diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, washed, trimmed, and diced
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 stems of fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 32-ounce carton of vegetable broth
- 2 large russet potatoes, about 24 ounces, peeled and diced
- 1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 pound of skinned and deboned Great Lakes fish such as perch, lake trout, salmon, walleye or any combination thereof
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1. Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and sauté diced bacon, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown but not yet crumbly or crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the diced onion and celery and stir to combine. Cook this mixture until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, tie the thyme, parsley, and bay leaf together with cooking twine to create a bouquet garni. Set aside.
3. When the onions are translucent, add 1⁄2 cup of the stock or broth to the pan, scraping up and brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 31⁄2 cups stock or broth, the diced potatoes, corn, and the bouquet garni. Bring mixture to a simmer, skim the surface, and reduce the heat to low. Add the milk and cook— partially covered—until the potatoes are beginning to soften but not yet tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. It is important that the mixture stays at a low simmer and does not boil.
4. Add the frozen fish to the hot broth, cover, and poach over a low simmer until fish is barely cooked through and flakes apart with a fork, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni from the pot, break the fish apart into bite-size pieces with a fork, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Stacey Nield Brugeman is a food editor and writer based in Leelanau County, Michigan. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, Denver’s 5280 Magazine and more. You can follow her on Instagram at @staceybrugeman.