My mother-in-law, Jane Almeida, is an excellent cook. Many of her recipes extend from her Portuguese and Scottish heritage. This fish chowder recipe comes from her Scottish grandmother, and is something Jane grew up eating. The great thing about chowder, like most stew dishes, is you can substitute different things and still have a great dish. Got mussels? Sure! Smoked haddock? Absolutely! Clams? That’s a layup.
We’re adapting it here to include a quick irish soda bread recipe in honor of St. Patrick’s Day coming up this weekend. Irish soda bread and chowder are a great pairing.
For the chowder:
1 ½ lbs white fish (hake, haddock, pollock or cod) filets
½ lb diver scallops cut in half or quarters
2-3 cups half and half OR light cream OR evaporated milk (or mix of any)
3 medium potatoes, scrubbed (skin on if new potatoes) cut on an angle, leaving one end thick the other a sliver, approximately 1 -2 inches long
1 medium onion – chopped
1 carrot – grated
1 stalk celery – chopped
1/4 cup butter (or render lean salt pork if you prefer, which is more traditional. You could also add bacon for the smoke flavor and the fat content.)
Heat butter in heavy pot or large cast iron dutch oven until frothy.
Add chopped onions. When onions are nearly transparent add carrot and celery.
Add potatoes, which will melt into the chowder thickening it.
Cover with water and cook until potatoes are tender and break apart with fork.
Lay rinsed fish filets on top of potatoes and veggies (be sure there is still enough water in pot covering the potatoes.)
Cook until fish falls apart and is no longer opaque. Try not to break fish apart too much.
Add warmed milk or cream. When steamy, add scallops.
TURN OFF heat and allow scallops to poach in hot milk
Season with small amount of fresh or dry tarragon or thyme (to taste), parsley and salt and fresh ground pepper. If too thick add more warmed milk or cream. Best left to sit and marry for several hours or refrigerate overnight
Warm until steamy and serve with baking powder biscuits or Irish soda bread.
For the Irish Soda Bread (from Grits and Pinecones)
3 1/2cups all-purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
1 1/2cup buttermilk