Our fishing lodge is in the spectacular Northwest Territories where the lake trout is king. This is on the very northern end of its range, and what, ecologically speaking, could be called the Barrenlands , with its vast lake trout lakes, and rivers this is where I draw my inspiration from here.
This chowder has bacon, corn, lots of herbs and a homemade lake trout stock. None of this would fly in mum’s clam chowder.
But here’s the thing: People come north to escape tradition, to be free to be whomever they wish to be. Why can’t their chowder follow suit?
Lake Trout Chowder
1 hr 30 mins
1 hr 50 mins
As I mentioned we use lake trout. What makes this chowder great is the broth you make from the heads and bones, and while you are perfectly OK making this with store-bought stock, it will not be as good. Serve with crusty sourdough bread and a beer or sharp white wine. Oh, and this chowder is actually better the next day; just heat it up very slowly on the stovetop. Don’t let it boil.
Serves: 8 people
Author: Kevin McNeil
LAKE TROUT BROTH
• 3 to 4 pounds lake trout heads, fins and bones , gills removed
• 2 tablespoons safflower or grapeseed oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 carrots, chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 cup white wine
• 1 handful of dried mushrooms, preferably matsutake
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1/4 pound thick bacon, chopped
• 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
• 5 t0 6 cups lake trout broth, or 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 to 2 cups water
• 1 to 2 pounds skinless, boneless lake trout meat, cut into chunks
• 1 cup corn, fresh or thawed
• 2/3 cup heavy cream
• Black pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or chives, for garnish
1) To make the broth, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it well. Add the lake trout bones, heads, etc. When the water returns to a boil, let this cook 1 minute. Remove the lake trout bits (save them!) and discard the water. Blanching this way removes the scum from the stock and will give you a cleaner-tasting broth when you are done.
2) Wipe out the pot, add the oil, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot, saute the onion, carrot and celery, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and the dried mushrooms and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Let the wine boil for a minute or two, then add the blanched lake trout bones and enough cool water to cover everything by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) and cook like this for 45 minutes.
3) Get a large bowl for the broth and set a strainer over it. Line the strainer with a plain paper towel or cheesecloth. Turn off the heat on the broth and ladle it through the strainer and into the bowl. Don’t bother trying to get the last little bit of broth out of the pot, as it will be full of debris. Discard the contents of the pot and reserve the broth.
4) To make the chowder, melt the butter in a Dutch over or other soup pot set over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring and turning often, until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft, about another 4 to 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the lake trout broth and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5) When the potatoes are tender, add the corn and the chunks of lake trout. Cook gently until the lake trout is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the dill, heavy cream and black pepper.