In the kitchen with my mom was where I gained my cooking wings. It’s where my love of mixing, stirring, cutting, baking, cooking, and creating was born. I’m so thankful for all the kitchen memories I have with her. The recipe I’m sharing today (and many more in the future) was inspired by her and I know she’s looking down, smiling, proud that I’ve started this blog.
Mom, this is for you! I love you and miss you.
Growing up, when Mom said it was salmon stew night, I got so excited. I can still remember the amber glass Pyrex pot on the stove—milk simmering with a nice layer of butter on top and lots and lots of pepper.
It was my job to open the cans of salmon (we never, ever used fresh salmon) and get all the bones out. Who knew there was so much joy in such a tedious task, but I absolutely loved doing it.
After the milk, butter, salt, and pepper simmered for a while, Mom would put the salmon in and let it continue to simmer away. That was it… that was the extent of her recipe. Mom always had a way of making the most simple ingredients taste amazingly delicious. I swear the whole “it’s a mom’s loving touch that makes everything good” is true. It’s the only way to explain how canned salmon in hot, buttered milk could taste so yummy.
Fast forward many years, to my own kitchen… I’ve turned Mom’s recipe from a stew to a chowder. Just like hers, it’s a go-to comfort food, it’s just a little more hearty. Mine is full of potatoes, onions, corn, and salmon.
As far as the salmon is concerned, sometimes I use canned, and when I do, I use wild salmon. Also, I always reserve the liquid and put it in the chowder for more flavor. Here’s the kind I use:
Most of the time (like this past weekend), I use a fresh salmon filet from our local seafood market, Stowe Seafood. Look at this beauty!
I’m not one to wait for fall or winter to enjoy soups and chowders. I love them too much to only make them in the cold months. Some people ask, “How can you enjoy hot soup in the middle of the summer?” Well… I guess I could ask the same about someone standing in front of a grill, then eating a hot steak and baked potato. Hot food is hot food, right? (Besides, fall is right around the corner. YAY!)
That being said, let’s make some chowdah on this beautiful first day of August!
First, if you’re using fresh corn, take the kernels off the corn. When there’s not fresh corn around, frozen corn works fine and dandy. I love Green Giant’s new roasted frozen corn.
Now, chop your onions. It’s up to you how chunky or small you want them. I usually go for medium. Then, quarter the potatoes. Use golden or red potatoes. DON’T use russet; they break down too much, too fast. I like to keep the skins on. If you don’t like them, peel them. Also, I like mine in larger chunks. If you want smaller bites, go for it. It’s all about personal preference.
Time to heat up the pot. Make sure it’s a large, heavy pot. I love my Le Creuset, but any big pot will do the job. Once it’s hot (medium high heat), add butter and oil (one tablespoon of each), and then add the potatoes.
Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut of potatoes you choose), continue to stir every once in a while. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot. It will unstick the potatoes and help them to not stick further. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.
Now, it’s time to add the onions and corn. Throw them in and let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often, and adding a little stock if they begin to stick.
While the veggies are cooking, warm 8 cups of milk. You can do it on the stove-top or in the microwave. You don’t want it boiling, just warm. I stress this– do not let it boil.
Add the milk to the veggies (if you’re using canned salmon, add the liquid from the can at this point). Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. I use a tablespoon of each to begin with. Then, after they’ve hung out with the milk for a little bit, I taste, and then add more of what I think it needs. You do the same. Want more salt? Add it. Want it more garlicky? Do it. Want it spicy? Add some red pepper flakes or cayenne. Add as much or as little of a spice as you want. Everybody’s taste buds are different on different days. Some days, I want to kick it up, some days, not so much.
From this point, now that the milk is added, be careful. Do not let it come to a boil. Keep it on low heat. If you scorch the milk, your dinner is ruined. Also, if your milk gets too hot it’ll break down the fats and curdle. So, don’t rush it. You just want the vegetables to finish cooking. Taste them, especially the potatoes. Once they’re done to your likeness, it’s time to add the salmon. If you’re using canned salmon, add it, and let it simmer (on a low heat) for not long at all… maybe 5 minutes. If you’re using fresh salmon, put it skin side up, like this:
Let the salmon cook for around ten minutes (depends on thickness of the salmon you use). Once the salmon begins to cook through, the skin will pull away using tongs, like this:
With tongs, or a fork, break up the salmon into large chunks or small pieces… it’s your choice.
Time to serve it up!! It goes great with cornbread, saltines, or oyster crackers. I also love a few dashes of Frank’s hot sauce on mine.
What you’ll need:
1 onion– diced
3 ears of corn– kernels off the cob or a small bag of frozen corn (thawed)
1 bag (24 oz) of golden or red potatoes– quartered (or diced to your liking)
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/2 cup to 1 cup of vegetable stock– depending if you need it to deglaze the pot.
8 cups of warmed milk (I used 2%. Feel free to use whatever you like)
1 Tablespoon of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder (Remember, you can adjust these amounts up or down to your liking)
Cayenne or red pepper flakes… if you want it spicy
1 lb of fresh salmon or three cans of canned salmon
Add butter and oil to a hot pot and sauté the potatoes. Let them cook for ten minutes with the lid off, stirring often. Then put the lid on, lower to medium heat, and let them cook for another 5-10 minutes (depending on the cut size of the potato), stirring every so often. If they begin to stick (especially if you’re not using a nonstick pot) use veggie stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot and it will help the potatoes to not stick as much. Plus, the stock will help steam the potatoes as they cook.
Add the corn and onions. Let them cook with the potatoes for about 8 minutes, stirring often (add a little stock if they begin to stick).
Add warmed milk, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Let simmer until the potatoes are cooked through to your liking. Then, add the salmon. Once cooked through, if using fresh salmon, remove skin and break up with tongs.
Serve with cornbread, saltines, and/or oyster crackers. Hot sauce is good, too.
ALTERNATIVES AND TIPS:
If you like to cook with bacon, cook bacon in your pot, remove, and then cook your potatoes, onions, and corn in the bacon fat. Save the bacon and crumble on top of your chowder before serving.
If you’re lactose intolerant, or enjoy a Manhattan style chowder, use 2 cans (large) crushed tomatoes and 1 can (large) diced tomatoes in place of the milk.
Remember, DO NOT LET YOUR MILK GET TOO HOT OR BOIL.
Don’t add your salmon (especially if you’re using fresh) too soon. Wait until you’re at least ten minutes away from serving.