4 cups (ish) fish stock (see recipe below)
about ¼ cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 tbsp white flour
2-3 potatoes, washed, peeled (or not, if you want), cut into ½” cubes
4-5 lbs of Good, Clean & Fair fish (fillets, bones removed)
2 cans evaporated milk
about 4 cups of milk (2%, or whole. I suppose you could use some cream, too)
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika & Parsley to garnish (optional but highly recommended)
In a large heavy pot, slowly heat the butter over low heat. If you scald the butter, you’re off to a bad start. Add the onions and cook them, slowly (see what I mean?), until translucent (but not browned). Make sure your stock is ready (and hot). Sprinkle the flour about a tablespoon at a time into the butter and onions while stirring constantly. The amount of flour you add will determine how thick the chowder is in the end. If you want a thick chowder, use all of the flour. If you prefer your chowder on the thin side, only use a couple of tablespoons. If the mixture gets too dry, feel free to add some more butter – you can never have too much butter. Once you finish adding the flour, cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the mixture begins to brown.
Slowly add the stock a bit at a time while scraping up any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. The mixture should thicken right away. Once your have added about half of the stock and nothing is left stuck to the bottom, add the potatoes. Then add enough stock to cover the potatoes. Stir, and toss in some crushed black pepper.
Pour yourself another drink, you’ve got this. Continue to cook over low heat until the potatoes are fully cooked, stirring frequently (you don’t want anything to stick to the bottom and burn). This should take about 20-25 minutes but don’t even think about rushing the potatoes – they have to be completely done before you continue. Once you had the milk, the chowder won’t be hot enough to cook the potatoes any further, so unless you and your dinner guests are really into not-cooked potatoes, don’t rush it.
You’re in the home stretch. Once the potatoes are tender, Add the milk (both the evaporated milk and the 2% milk or cream). Give it a stir, then add the fish. You don’t have to cut up the fish fillets, just lay them in the pot, and make sure they are covered by the liquid. Cook gently (uncovered) on low heat, stirring slowly every once in a while. Don’t you dare let it boil. If it does, the milk will curdle and your chowder will be wrecked. When the fish starts to flake and break apart, your chowder is done.
Remove from heat, add salt to taste, and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley, paprika and maybe some more pepper.
Then share it with family and friends and enjoy. Slowly.