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Copper River Chowder

Ingredients

Stock

  • 7 quarts water
  • Trim from 2 large (30-40 pound) Copper River king salmons (backs, tails, fins, cheeks, etc.)
  • Vidalia sweet onion, chopped
  • Yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • Several turns freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

Chowder

  • 1/2 gallon half-and-half
  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 6 cups strong salmon stock
  • 4 - 5 large red potatoes, diced
  • 1 stick butter (optional)
  • 4 pounds corn kernels, preferably sweet corn from someone's backyard
  • 2 cups Madeira wine (optional)
  • 1 pound ends and pieces bacon, cut up into small pieces
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons dill
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • Several turns freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon culinary-grade lavender
  • 3-quart bowl full of Copper River king salmon meat from trim
  • 4 bay leaves (preferably California Bay Laurel, but the more commonly-found and cheaper Turkish will do fine)

Instructions

  1. Stock: Cut up the salmon trim and split it between two large stockpots, unless you have a stockpot large enough to hold everything; cover with water. Skim scum as it appears. Cook just until the salmon meat is cooked, then pick all the meat off the bones. Reserve the meat and refrigerate. Put the bones, fins, tails, etc. back into one of the stockpots. Cook on low for an hour or two, skimming off scum.
  2. Take out the rest of the salmon trim. Add the chopped veggies and spices. Cook over low to medium heat. Then reduce to about 1/3 or 1/4. Strain through dampened cheesecloth, pressing out all the liquid or as much of it as you can get. Dump the mass of vegetables and what few bones remain, and save the liquid. You should have about 6 cups. If there's more, reduce further or use as is.
  3. Chowder: Fry the bacon in a large stockpot. Pour off most of the bacon fat, saving just a little to coat the bottom of the pan. Add half-and-half and stock. Add salmon meat. Add potatoes. Add pepper, dill, thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, and lavender. Cook for a bit to give the flavors a chance to marry. Get out a second stockpot and split ingredients between the two. Add 1 quart milk to each pot. Add 1/2 stick butter to each pot, if you're using butter. Add half the corn to each pot. Add two bay leaves to each pot. Bring to simmer and cover most of the way. Let simmer on low heat for about 3 hours, being careful not to let it boil; stir occasionally. Add half the Madeira (if you're using it) to each pot and simmer for another half hour.
  4. Serve.

Makes about 10 quarts of delicious chowder.

I have made this without the Madeira, butter and lavender, using wild-caught coho trim and Turkish bay leaves (and in about half the quantity all 'round), and it's good that way, too.

Shared with Recipe Goldmine by River Curtis-Stanley of Paradux Hill.


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