HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Smoked Trout Chowder adapted from April Bloomfield's "A Girl and Her Pig"


        
A Girl and Her Pig...literally
I am a huge fan of April Bloomfield and I’ll follow her anywhere—to The Breslin in the Ace Hotel, next door at the John Dory or down in the Village where she practically invented the Gastropub at “The Spotted Pig”. ( For a list of posts about Chef Bloomfield, go to the bottom of this post.)  I was cruising through her cookbook “A Girl and Her Pig” (Ecco /Harper Collins 2012) when I came to her recipe for Smoked Haddock Chowder.  It’s been on the menu at the Spotted Pig ever since it opened. I’d never succumbed to its charms at the restaurant or its price tag : $16.00 a bowl.  And quite frankly, Smoked Haddock is a fish I remember vividly from childhood.  Back then it was in something called “Finnan Haddie” and if I never saw another plate of it, I would die happy.

Finnan Haddie is as Scottish as you can get first showing up in Aberdeenshire in the 1600s. It's so Scottish when you think about it: Smoking fish so it would last longer.  Since we were good Scots Canadians, my mother embraced the dish.  It was virtually the only fish served in our house. And true to my mother’s kitchen credo that the less you do, the better the recipe, all that was done to the fish was to poach it in milk. Just awful.  But as much as I disliked Finnan Haddie, I love a great chowder.  And every summer when the family descended on Nantucket, we had wonderful fresh seafood chowders full of summer corn and potatoes, with some bacon tossed in for good measure.  I’m always on the look-out for something new in supermarkets and that’s where I spied an 8 oz. package of smoked Rainbow trout filets.  I took them home, opened up “A Girl and her Pig” and put April’s advice about making chowder to work.
         Chef Bloomfield equates infusing the smoky flavor of the fish to
making a cup of tea.   By slow cooking you infuse the milk and the
cream with all the richness of the fish.  The vegetables are slow-
cooked, giving off a sweetness.  Please forgive me for using canned
Niblet corn.  Once corn is in season, I will gladly incorporate fresh corn
right off the cob.  If you object to the canned corn, do as April
sometimes does: use the fresh English peas that are in the market
now.  Here is my recipe which owes  a lot to Chef Bloomfield although
I played a little fast and loose with the original.
Recipe for Smoked Trout Chowder adapted from April Bloomfield.
Serves 4.
  
        2 cups whole milk
        2 cups heavy cream
        16 oz. Clam Juice or Fish Stock
        8 ounces smoked haddock or trout (remove skin and any bones)
        4 ounces bacon (cooked and diced into 1/2 inch pieces)
        1 cup leeks (white a pale green parts only, sliced 1/8 inch thick)
        1 ½ lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes in ½ inch dice
        1 cup of Niblets or fresh corn off the cob.                
        2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 or 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.
In a heavy bottomed pan combine the cream, milk and trout. Bring to a gentle simmer. Take the pan off the heat and allow to infuse at room temperature until cool.


2.
In another pan, cook bacon until crisp, given off a little of its fat, and turned a light brown. Remove from pan, cut into ½ inch dice. Return bacon to pan. Add clam juice, leeks, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook over medium heat for about 35 to 40 minutes


3.
Add the potatoes to the bacon and vegetables and clam juice. Cook for about 10 minutes over low heat, then strain the cream into the vegetables. Add tarragon to the cream mixture.  Flake the trout into large chunks. Add trout to chowder, give a good stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook until the potatoes are tender (approximately ten minutes), checking and stirring intermittently so they do not burn. 
4.
Just before serving, add fresh lemon juice. Serve with some crusty garlic toast.