I’ll be giving blow by blow instructions in case you’ve never tried cooking a chowder before and would like some hand-holding. We all have to start somewhere, after all.
I pulled out some of the vegetables I found in the fridge and pantry, but, as always, you can use the veggies that your family can all agree on. The fish/protein is also exchangeable. As usual, I prepped the vegetables the day before, as I had time. I chose:
- 2 carrots – cubed
- 1 green pepper – cubed around the same size as the carrots
- 2 C mushrooms – sliced
- 2 C brocolli – cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 can creamed corn
These next four I wouldn’t consider replaceable, but you can leave the garlic out if you really hate it.
- 4 cloves garlic – minced
- 1 medium sized yellow onion – minced (can also use white or vidalia onions if preferred)
- 2 stalks celery – diced small
- 3 C potatoes – diced, but bigger than the carrots
Other stuff you’ll need:
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/2 C of all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1/2 Tbsp Chili powder (or heated spice of your liking)
- 5 C Veggie stock (or broth of your liking)
- 1 C of amber lager (can substitute white wine (not sweet) or beer/lager of your choice, but no super weird flavors)
- Salt to taste (I used about two teaspoons)
- 1 lb of bite-sized salmon (or seafood of your choice)
- 1 1/2 C whole milk (sub heavy cream if you’d like a creamier chowder)
Let’s get started!
- Melt butter over medium heat, then add garlic and onion and sautee until they’re translucent (about five minutes)
2. Add the flour and stir until there are no more lumps. Stirring frequently, allow to cook for about 7 minutes. It should start to turn a tanner color. Be careful not to let it burn.
3. Pour the stock, about a cup at a time, into the pot and stir after each until completely combined. About halfway through the stock, add in your Old Bay, salt, and any other spices you wanted to use. The texture will be weird and gluey. At this point, you are basically making vegetarian gravy. Then finish up adding the liquid.
4. Add your “hard” vegetables (carrots, potatoes, bell pepper, celery). Stir and allow to come back up to a boil, then reduce the temp to medium low and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Bring the temp back up to medium. Dump in the rest of your veg (mushroom, corn, brocolli), pour in the beer (or wine), stir well to make sure everything is properly submerged, and bring back to a slow boil. Reduce one more time to a simmer. Give the broth a quick taste at this point to see if it needs more spice or salt.
6. FINALLY we get to add the seafood! You’ll have to play this one by ear depending on what you’re using. This salmon cooked up very quickly (probably just a minute after I added it and stirred it in), but shrimp and scallops would have taken longer. Cook the protein until it is just done, as you don’t want it to be rubbery or fall apart too much.
7. As soon as the fish is cooked, turn off the heat and pour in the milk. Give it a good stir and serve to everyone who has accumulated around the stove after the smell wafted to wherever they were in the house.
Ideas for vegetables: Peas, carrots, more onion, bell peppers of any color, bigger chunks of celery, red beans, mushrooms, corn, more potatoes, brocolli, green beans, garbonzo beans.
Ideas for protein: Tilapia, salmon, catfish, haddock, cod, squid, scallops, shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams, mussles, tofu or even pre-cooked chicken chunks.