(Originally published on another blog, long ago and far away.)
Oh, she didn’t put four pounds of grouper in your freezer? Well, if she had been to your house she would have, along with some eggs, fresh mayonnaise, cookies and grapefruit juice. And you would know about it, too, because she might mention it a few times. And you’d be freaking out, because you wouldn’t be able to find the mayo, which is bound to spoil and destroy your family.
Anyhow, I was glad to get the grouper, because it inspired me to make fish chowder, which I love. So here you go:
Extreme Grouper Chowder
Take about four pounds of grouper fillets and put them in a zip-loc bag with some lemon juice. Keep them in the fridge until you need them.
Start with a roux. I started with a roux in anticipation of publishing this recipe. I imagined how sophisticated it would sound to say, “Start with a roux.” I feel all Julia Child and sh*t. It’s less complicated than it sounds. In a big soup pot, melt a whole stick of butter. Add a half a cup of flour and whisk it for a few minutes. No lumps, please!
To the roux, add two chopped onions and one chopped red pepper. Let them cook for a few minutes, until they’re soft.
Next, add the following to the pot:
4 cups of fish stock (homemade if you like, or by the can or box. My fave by Kitchen Basics can be found at Rosewood Market or the Social Pig. One of these days, I’ll give you a stock recipe, which you can freeze in can-sized increments.)
1 can of tomatoes with green chilis (like Ro-Tel)
1 can of evaporated milk
3 tablespoons of tomato paste (I like the kind in the tube, because it lasts a long time and is easy to use.)
1 cup of frozen corn
3 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes (I used Yukon Gold and they were yummy. Incidentally, they have a medium amount of starch for a potato and hold up well in soups.)
sprinkle of white pepper
heaping spoonful of brown sugar
as much fresh thyme as you have the patience to strip off those little tiny branches, at least a tablespoon.
salt to taste
Let the soup simmer until the potatoes are more or less cooked, about thirty minutes.
By the way, if you’re itching to open a bottle of wine and need an excuse, a splash of dry white might be nice to add. I didn’t need to justify opening the bottle, so I didn’t add any.
Now dump the fish from the bags right into the pot. The fish should cook pretty quickly, in about ten minutes, and it’ll break into bite-sized chunks as you stir it.
Add a splash or two of balsamic vinegar until it tastes just right.
Now eat it.
If you would like to be very fancy, you could sprinkle fresh thyme on top of each bowl. Or you could make your own croutons with thyme and olive oil. Or you could just serve it with crusty bread. Maybe even bread from Heather’s Artisan Bakery from the All-Local Farmers’ Market, because it’s so good you’ll freak out. It’s crazy good. I accidentally ate an entire loaf of her ciabatta. And an entire loaf of the cranberry nut challah. It’s that good!