Recently, thanks to the generosity of Michelann and the fact that her house was overrun with fish from her husband’s recent fishing trip, I came to have several pounds of beautiful, fresh redfish in my fridge. Since it was only 95 degrees that day and as close to fall as we’re going to get anytime soon, I decided to try and make a fish chowder. I’ve never made fish chowder before, but I make a mean potato soup, so I decided I could just take the potato soup one step farther and be all set. I was right, and we were rewarded with a delicious, creamy fish stew. I’ll admit that this recipe is only CSA adjacent, not relying very heavily on our CSA vegetables, but it was a good way to use fresh, local fish that was caught by a friend. If you’ve got a fisherman (or fisherwoman) in your family, you are friends or neighbors with a fisher, or you know where the seafood section is inside your local grocery, this is a good way to use any firm fish.
5 strips bacon (give or take), chopped
1 onion, finely diced
About a cup of finely diced bell peppers, or other sweet peppers (1-2 large peppers, 4-5 small ones)
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
2 lb potatoes, peeled and medium diced
2 lb firm, mild fish (redfish, haddock), diced into 1″ cubes
24 oz evaporated milk
1/2 c flour
Salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning to taste
Fry the bacon in a 5 qt dutch oven or other large pot until it is crispy. Carefully scoop out the bacon bits, leaving as much of the fat as you can. You can also leave the bacon in the pot, but it won’t stay as crispy. In the remaining bacon fat over medium high heat, saute the onions and bell peppers until the onions are translucent and the peppers are softened. Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Reduce heat to medium and allow the stew to simmer for about 10-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the fish and simmer until the fish is cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Separately, whisk the evaporated milk and flour together. When the fish is cooked through, add the evaporated milk mixture and stir over medium heat until the chowder starts to thicken. Adjust seasoning according to your taste. This makes a big batch – my 5 qt dutch oven was full to the top, but it freezes very well. Portion out into individual servings and freeze for a quick weekday lunch.