My High School Buddy Eric Jorgensen’s Hearty Fish Chowder
One of the very cool things about Facebook is finding old friends you haven’t spoken with in ages. This recipe comes to me from an old high school friend I recently found on Facebook.
When we first met in homeroom on our first day of high school, we discovered we were born just days apart in the same hospital and both had mothers from Denmark. Small world. Eric went off to sea his senior year but we keep in touch by letters and years later he visited me in New York City. And then we lost touch until our Facebook connection.
Eric is a stay-at-home dad like myself and takes on a lot of the cooking so I asked him to send me one of his favorite recipes. This fish chowder is one he used to make when he was working on commercial fishing boats. He has worked on crab boats and salmon boats in Alaska, fished lobster in Maine and on trawlers in New Zealand so I guess he should know something about fish chowder.
3 medium sized potatoes
3 stalks celery with leaves
½ lb bacon
1½ lbs fresh chopped clams
2 - 3 lb fresh fish - white fleshed like cod or haddock
3 tablespoons flour
Fresh thyme (optional)
Salt and pepper - to taste
Cream or half & half (optional for New England style)
How To Prepare At Home
Finely mince the onions, 2 carrots, 1 potato, 2 stalks celery. Chop remaining veggies into bite-sized chunks to add later.
In large pot, saute bacon, add minced veggies, & stir until cooked. Sprinkle in flour and stir a few minutes longer. Add some salt and pepper. If you don't want to use bacon, substitute butter.
Add water to pot to cover veggies with a few inches of water, more for a soup, less for stew. You can always adjust.
Let veggies simmer for an hour or two to make a nice stock that will be used to make the chowder. I asked Eric if you should strain the vegetables when done simmering now that they have done their job and added their flavor to the stock but he told me "they just kind of disappear and create a thick stock, especially with the addition of flour."
About an hour and half before serving, add remaining chopped veggies and clams. Let them simmer for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. Check seasoning, this recipe can take a lot of fresh pepper and salt. Add fresh thyme if desired. If a thicker chowder is desired add some more flour-premixed with water to a slurry to avoid clumping. When potatoes and carrots are almost tender, add fish.
Allow fish to cook just below a boil, until tender, about 10 minutes. Don't overcook fish, just until it can flake. Fish can be left in large pieces and served on rice, or broken up for a traditional fish stew.
If you want a New England Chowder add cream when fish is done, but do not allow to boil once added.
Eric also likes to add shrimp to this dish with the fish.
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