makes four servings
1/4 pound thick cut maple cured hickory-smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 whole onion, peeled and halved lengthwise, cut julienne
3 tablespoons unsalted sweet butter
4 whole bay leaves
8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons roasted garlic puree
1 quart fish stock, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cups creme fraiche or heavy cream
4 fresh whitefish fillets, skinned, boned and trimmed
1 whole lemon, juiced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Basil compound butter, optional
Chowder crackers, optional
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon for 10 minutes or until it is crisp and has rendered its fat. Remove the crisp bacon and reserve.
In the same pan, add the onions to the rendered bacon fat with the butter and bay leaves. Turn up the heat to medium-high and sweat the onions for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are soft and translucent. Add the herbs, potatoes and roasted garlic puree. Cover with the fish stock and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer the chowder base for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just cooked, and the broth is rich and flavorful.
Add the creme fraiche (or heavy cream) to the base and stir to blend. Submerge the fillets of whitefish into the base, making sure the broth covers the fish, and gently simmer the chowder another 5 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Taste the chowder for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Gently transfer the broth to a large serving bowl and carefully top with the fillets.
Drizzle in the lemon juice to taste and top with basil compound butter. Garnish with the chowder crackers.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Fork in the Road with Eric Villegas: Michigan Culinary Adventures from the Emmy-winning PBS Series by Eric Villegas. Huron River Press, 2007