Lighten Up, Francis…It’s Just Christmas Dinner

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The holidays are, hands down, my favorite time of year, but it’s no secret that (especially for us foodies) it can bring with it a lot of kitchen chaos and performance anxiety.

So many dishes, so many people, and so many “cherished family traditions” that must be upheld, it would be well-nigh impossible to make it through the season without at least some drama.

So, if we can’t avoid the chaos, let’s at least try to get a rope on it, right?

Here are a few tips to help you avoid enough of the crises to actually enjoy the food and family time, which, let’s face it…is really the whole point!

 

#10 – Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Does anyone really care if the tablecloth is ironed?  

Does anyone really care if their napkins are shaped like swans, or if you’ve freshly polished Great-Grandma’s silver?

No, they don’t…they want to eat, and laugh, and then eat some more. If you’re low on time (uh, who’s not?), and that cloth is really bugging you, just iron the corners and sides.

Once all the dishes are in place, no one will see the wrinkles anyway.

Also, have the kids help you set the table the night before, too. It’s one less thing to do.

#9 – Have a plan!

  • Sit down and make a guest list
  • Plan your menu and decide if you’re doing all of the cooking, or if others will be bringing dishes, and make a checklist of all ingredients.
  • Create a complete shopping list, organized by aisle.
  • Take inventory of your dinnerware, kitchen tools, and gadgets, spices and other staples in your pantry (and don’t forget to count chairs!)
  • We call it “mise en place”, and it means having everything prepared and in place before you start cooking…and, trust me, it will save you an all-inclusive trip to the funny farm!

 

#8 – For Pete’s Sake…Lighten up!

With the size of the feast on most of our tables, it really isn’t necessary to load your guests up on dips, snacks, or appetizers.

A platter of cut fresh veggies should do the trick, or maybe make the snacks and appetizers a “pot luck” item?

Do we really need three kinds of potatoes or six side dishes? 

In the restaurant business, we call it a “Meat & 3”. In this case, 1 meat (turkey), and three side dishes, (at my house, it’s garlic-mushroom stuffing, green bean casserole, and whipped potatoes.)

Bread and appetizers are a rookie mistake that only serves to dull our tastebuds and fill us up before the main event.

Also, don’t be afraid to look up simpler versions of classic holiday recipes (like my 90-Minute Roast Turkey” Video.)

#7 – Plan a dress rehearsal!

If you’re making a side dish for the first time or using ingredients that you aren’t familiar with, try them out beforehand so you’ll be prepared for success on the big day.

This is especially important if you’re pressing the young’uns into service! (And you SHOULD be pressing the young’uns into service!)

No free rides, Timmy!

Ditto if you’re serving a new wine or using new equipment, like a brand-new oven or slow-cooker. There’s a time and place for culinary surprises…this ain’t it.

 
#6 – Clear out your fridge a week in advance.

You’re going to be filling it up again pretty soon, so now is a good time to eat those leftovers, combine those four not-quite-empty pickle jars, and toss anything that tries to fight back.

Clean off the counters! Martha Stewart isn’t going to be dropping by (Dear God, please…) so clear away all the junk…those knick-knacks, cookie jars, and kitchen gadgets you’re not going to use.

Think “industrial kitchen” and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

Rule of thumb: If you’re not going to use it from November first to January first…stick it in a closet. Better yet, get rid of some of it. Do you really need eleven whisks (hint: no, no you don’t), find a local shelter kitchen and make a donation!

#5 – Give yourself a head start!

  • Do as much prep work as you can:
  • Make salad dressings in advance.
  • Chop onions and celery and store in resealable plastic bags in the fridge
  • Top and tail green beans
  • Make your stock for gravy with roasted turkey wings or thighs.
  • Potatoes can be peeled, halved, and stored in cold water for 48 hours (in fact, it makes them better!
  • Prep your brine for the turkey (Video)
  • Make a list of everything you need to do, right up to digging in, and note how far in advance you can practically (and safely) check it off the list.

#4 – Don’t be afraid of a pot-luck.

Most folks have a special holiday dish that they’re proud of, so share the spotlight of a great holiday dinner by letting them bring it! And if it’s good, make a big deal about it over dinner…you’ll never have to make it again!

Keep a list so you don’t end up with 6 bowls of candied yams, and another list of suggested dishes (with recipes) for folks who vapor-lock when faced with a menu decision. If they’re really not up to it, a bottle of wine, a store-bought veggie plate, or a couple of bags of ice are pretty hard to screw up.

This ain’t Downton Abbey, folks, our guests can bring a couple of cans of olives and you can even use…(oh my GOD)…paper plates!

The point is, do what’s important. If those homemade jellies cranberries or Great-grandma Edith’s silver makes for a happier holiday for you, then go for it.

If not, let it go, Elsa…let it go.

 

#3 – Shop early (and late…)

Now that we’re just a couple of days out, you can safely buy most of your fresh ingredients.

Onions, carrots, potatoes, celery, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and green beans, potatoes, and even fresh-looking salad greens will last until Thursday provided you store them properly. DO NOT plan on doing any shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

You don’t want any part of that nut-fest.

Pick up cheeses and cured meats for an easy, no-prep appetizer, to serve while you’re in the kitchen.

Full-contact grocery shopping not your thing? (Mine neither…those little old ladies can get vicious)…here’s what I do:

Find a good 24-hour grocery (I like Winco), and hit it about 4-5am, do your shopping, then stop by your favorite coffee shop on the way home for a cuppa and a bagel. Make a plan with a friend to shop together.

Taking an afternoon nap is a lot easier on you than running with the grocery-cart bulls on a holiday afternoon.

#2 – Assign the final steps.

If you have older children, nieces & nephews, or in-laws that you CANNOT keep out of the kitchen (I commiserate, believe me)…put ’em to work! Gramma is in charge of the stuffing – getting it in the serving dish, and to the table, with a serving spoon.

Cousin Fred is in charge of making sure everyone’s glass is full.

Little Susie puts the rolls in the basket, gets the basket to the table, and makes butter dishes (and knives) available. Make it clear that once they have performed their job, they should take their seat at the table.

…because, you know, they’re guests. 😉

Which brings us to my most important step of all…

#1 –BE THANKFUL!

This is what it’s about peeps…not the turkey, not the pies, and not about being the perfect host or hostess.

Find a quiet spot to sit for 20-30 minutes, before you start cooking Thursday morning, and reflect on what you have to be thankful for, write these things down, and note why you’re thankful for them.

Keep that thought firmly in place as you ride into battle.

Heck, tape the list to the fridge door, in case you need a reminder later…

The secret to being a great host or hostess (and not sticking a meat-fork into your mother-in-law) is to do as much as you can in advance, and then not sweat the small stuff.

If the yams burn, toss ’em out, turn on a fan, and enjoy all the rest of the great food. If the turkey’s raw, have a number handy to order take-out!

Talk! Laugh! Drink! Make memories!

And, most of all be thankful

Remember: it isn’t about the turkey in the oven, it’s about all the turkeys around the table.

Sorry, Martha.

~Chef Perry

PS – For more of my favorite holiday recipes and tips, check out my video,Home Chef Holiday Cooking Tips on YouTube…and heck, while you’re there, please subscribe to my channel! 😉 

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5 Classic Regional BBQ Sauces

traditional bbq sauce recipes

 

Traditional BBQ Sauce RecipesIn BBQ and grilling, sauces are used to flavor, marinade, glaze, and as a condiment or topping for seared and smoked meats, especially ribs and chicken.

History places the origin of BBQ sauce to the first American colonies of the 17th century and can be found in recipes and cookbooks (both English and French) over the following two centuries.

Much like chili in Texas, these sauces were less about gourmet ambitions, and  more about masking the often off-putting odors and flavors of “aged” meat in a pre-refrigeration society.

The origins of these sauces isn’t particularly complicated, take the traditional tastes and flavors of the predominate immigrant population, add in the most similar ingredients that could be found locally, and mix with some good old American ingenuity, and you have the roots of a tradition that has only grown stronger and more popular over the last two centuries.

South Carolina mustard sauce, for example, can be traced to that region’s German settlers of the early 18th century

Ingredients vary widely even within states and counties of the American South, but most include a base of vinegar, tomato paste, or mayonnaise (or a combination). Liquid smoke, and spices like paprika, mustard and black pepper, and sweeteners such as sugar and molasses typically round of the recipes.

Here are five of my personal favorites…

Eastern Carolina Sauce recipeThis & Tangy Eastern North Carolina BBQ Sauce (my favorite)

  • 1 Gal. cider vinegar                             
  • 1 Cup crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. ground black pepper              
  • ¼ Cup fine sea salt

Combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

This sauce get’s better with age, which is why I make it a gallon at a time!

Pulled pork bbq sauce recipes

North Carolina Barbecue Sauce

In the Carolinas, the barbeque meat is pork, and the barbeque sauces are matters of hot debate even from one town to the next. Some sauces are thin and vinegary, while some regions add ketchup, or even mustard. This is the recipe I grew up with, and Pop’s recipe is still my go-to for amazing baby-back ribs.

  • 1 qt cider vinegar                                         
  • 12 oz ketchup
  • 2/3 C packed brown sugar                           
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • ¼ C lemon juice                                          
  • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes          
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika                                 
  • 1 Tbs onion powder
  • 1 tsp each: black pepper, dry mustard          

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Traditional Kansas City sauce recipesMemphis-Style Barbecue Sauce

Slightly on the sweeter side, Memphis barbecue sauce has its own distinctive flavor, as well. Though the specific ingredients will vary from cook to cook, Memphis sauce is usually made with tomatoes, vinegar, and any countless combination of spices.

Memphis sauce is poured over pulled pork  or served alongside of dry ribs.

  • 1 Tbs butter                                                 
  • ¼ C finely chopped onion
  • 1 ½ C ketchup                                             
  • ¼ C chili sauce
  • 4 Tbs brown sugar                                       
  • 4 Tbs molasses
  • 2 Tbs yellow mustard                                   
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • 1 Tbs liquid hickory smoke
  • ½ tsp garlic powder                                    
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper                          
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • dash cayenne pepper

Bring all ingredients to the boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

Allow to cool, and serve or bottle.

Texas Brisket sauce recipes

Texas Brisket Sauce

Texas is famous for tender slow-smoked brisket. Sauces are usually thin, spicy, and mixed with intensely flavorful pan drippings.

  • ½ C brisket drippings (defatted)                  
  • ½ C vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce                         
  • ½ C ketchup
  • ½ tsp hot pepper sauce (Franks)                 
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed                            
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder                                       
  • traditional Texas bbq sauce recipesJuice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients.

Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Allow to rest 1-2 hours, and serve warm (on the side) with pencil-thin sliced brisket and sliced white bread.

Note: I like to coat the whole brisket in gold sauce after rubbing with spices, and the drizzle with some warmed sauce just before service.

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South Carolina Gold Sauce

  • ½ Gal. yellow mustard
  • ½ Gal. cider vinegar
  • 1 Cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sea salt
  • ¼ Cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. black pepper
  • ¼ Cup Louisiana hot sauce (to taste)

For each of these recipes, combine ingredients, heat to a low simmer, and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

Chill for at least 24 hours (72 is better) before using.

BTW, I have a LOT more BBQ & Grilling recipes, for all types of cooking, over on my outdoor cooking blog, La Caja China Cooking

~Chef Perry 

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Healthy School Lunches your Kids will Eat!

healthy homemade school lunches

A healthy breakfast & lunch are vital for attention and learning, and help keep kids focused and alert all day. I’ve taught hundreds of kids to plan and cook for themselves, and the vast majority of them, given the opportunity, will choose healthy, nutritious foods if they taste good, are offered in variety, and if they feel like they are allowed to choose for themselves.

Healthy school lunch ideas
Click the image to watch this morning’s segment on the AM Northwest webpage!

Ham and cheese wraps in lunch boxVariety

Kids get bored with the same old, same old…and a variety of foods helps ensure more balanced nutrition.

  • Wraps are sturdier and less messy to eat. Who wants to eat a smooshed sandwich?
  • Quesadillas are quick and easy to make. Ham & Cheese, Pizza, Turkey and cheddar
  • Vary hot and cold lunches. A thermos of their favorite soup or stew is a nice break from cold lunch, especially in winter.
  • A hot sandwich, wrapped in foil, will stay warm in a thermos, all day!
  • Pita Pockets are easy to eat, less messy, and because pita it denser than sandwich bread, you can assemble them the night before, and they won’t get soggy.

Tip: Small rewards for bringing home rinsed dishes and thermos’ are totally worth it!

yumbox-lunchboxLeftovers of favorite dinners make GREAT lunches

  • Slightly under-cook veggies, so they don’t turn to mush when re-heated.
  • If you struggle to get them to eat it at home, don’t bother packing it for lunch.
  • Let you kid’s help make the meal. Kid’s LOVE to bring and brag, and are twice as likely to eat something they helped make.
  • No kid worth their My Little Pony back-pack doesn’t like cold pizza!

Lunchable

Homemade “Lunchables”

Kids love stuff they can assemble!

  • Deli meat: slice it into cracker-size squares, and put it right back in the bag!
  • Cheese slices: Ditto
  • Crackers, whole wheat pita pockets, small flour tortillas
  • Raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Pickles
  • Trail mix
  • Treat (cookie, pudding, yogurt, etc.)
  • A 011316.f.ff.LostItalianwhole rotisserie chicken can make a week’s worth of protein for one hungry teen-ager or a couple of littles! Chicken legs, chicken with rice (use your rice-cooker), chicken salad wraps, sliced chicken-breast pitas…the list is endless!
  • Check out the bulk food section, it’s not just rice and beans anymore. Buying staple lunch items in bulk can save a ton of money over the same items in pretty bags.
  • Want to add a little more variety, without buying the whole produce section? Check out my post, “Shopping the Salad Bar!” over on our outreach page!

Make a master list of healthy lunch ingredients, and let your kids take turns choosing items from each food group the next time you go shopping. It works, it really does.

Save yourself some time!

Does it really need to be sliced on a perfect bias? Does every sandwich need to be cut into cute shapes and adorned with smiley faces? We’re not Martha Stewart, people, and nobody’s giving out Michelin Stars for the contents of our kid’s lunch bags. 😉

CARROTSTICKSFresh fruits and veggies begin to lose their flavor and texture as soon as they’re cut. My daughter is just as happy gnawing on a 4 inch hunk of cucumber, or popping whole grape tomatoes. Slice you veggies into manageable pieces in advance, and store in a large, sealed container of cold water for the week.

Spend those precious minutes assembling fresh, quality foods that your kids will eat. Flavor will trump fancy every time!

Chef or Cob salads are quick and easy to assemble. Send with a small reuseable container of their favorite dressing, and a baggie of croutons.

What to Skip

Bananas do NOT travel well, and nobody want to eat a brown, mushy banana. Save the bananas for breakfast! Always wrap the stems in foil.

Prepackaged “lunchables”. Sure they’re convenient, but you’re paying double, sometimes triple, for something you can easily assemble (with fresh fruit and veggies!) yourself.

16236AProbably the biggest rip-off in home-packed lunches are juice boxes.

Non-recyclable containers filled with a few swallow of sugar-laden “fruit” juice, and a grossly inflated price…ugh! Invest in a few reusable drink bottles, and fill them with pure, no-sugar-added juices at a fraction of the cost.

This goes for just about any “individual serving size” items (chips, cookies, fruits & veggies, trail-mix, etc.,)

All of these can be purchased in family-size portions, and added to a sandwich baggie for pennies on the dollar.

Assemble

Make it a team effort!

Make a (supervised) lunch “assembly line” in the morning. Kids can pick and choose what they want from a selection of meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies. All YOU need to do is pop a treat in the bag at the end of the line!

Stop over-paying for greasy burgers, spongy pizza, and chemical-laden processed “convenience” foods, and give your kids a leg up on learning with fresh, healthy, money-saving lunches.

They deserve it (and so do you!)

~Chef Perry

PS – Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and get many more healthy, delicious, budget-friendly tips, techniques, and recipes!


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Tips for Summer Grilling (AM Northwest)

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Hey, if you followed the link from AM Northwest, thanks for watching the show! We had a great time (as always) and (also as always) I only got halfway through my notes! 😉

Here’s an overview of what we covered, and what we didn’t have time to share, as well as some videos and links to some of my favorite (and delicious) ways to put these tips into practice!

Grill Like a Pro AM Northwest
Click here to watch the segment on AM Northwest!

Be sure to subscribe to my page (in the upper right-hand corner) to get all of my latest tips, tricks, and recipes!

~Chef Perry

Brining & Cuban Mojo Marinade Recipe

Spatch-cocking & Injecting

(Be sure to subscribe to My YouTube page, so you don’t miss a single video!

Near Room Temp Meat

In order to achieve the best results in your BBQ and grilling, you will want your meat to be near room temperature when cooking begins. You want your meat to cook evenly from edge to center. Therefore, the closer it is to its final eating temperature, the more evenly it will cook. You can increase the rate at which it warms by placing it on a highly conductive metal, like aluminum (this is also a great way to speed up the thawing process for frozen foods.

Dragon Claws Appetizer

Dragon Claws AM Northwest
Click HERE for the recipe!

weber-ribs2

Multi-zone grilling

Click on the link to see my article on multi-zone grilling, the various configurations, and which works best for different types of BBQ & grilling.

Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs

How to use the A-MAZE-N Smoker

Resting

See the article at this link to learn how and why resting meat before cutting can make or break your meal!

Cleaning

Clean your grill while it’s still HOT. Burn any remaining crud to carbon, brush with s stuff metal grill-brush. Cool until warm to the touch, and brush lightly with a high-heat oil, like Grape-seed.

Chimney Steaks

My personal favorite way to quick-grill a steak for maximum flavor and tenderness.

Now, get out there and grill!

~Chef Perry

PS ~ For even more BBQ and grilling articles and recipes, check out my outdoor cooking blog at www.lacajachinacooking.com


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Blue Cheese Bacon-Wrapped Dates

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This is my Darlin’s very favorite appetizer (and it’s up near the top of my list, too!)

Salty, sweet, and savory, these Bleu Cheese Bacon-Wrapped Dates are a snap to make, which is good, because they disappear fast!

Here’s the video…

(Oh, and to get my best recipe, like this one, as well as professional tips and techniques, delivered right to you inbox, be sure to sign up for my weekly Newsletter, here!)

 

Bacon A Home Chef's Guide
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Guy’s Guide to Valentine’s Cooking

Valentines Guide for Guys
Click the cover for your guide!

Ladies…

Don’t find chili-mac particularly romantic?

Buffalo Wings don’t get your motor revvin’?

Chicken on a beer can doesn’t light your fire?

Print my free “Home Chef’s Guide to Valentine’s Day (for Guys!)” and leave it in his man-cave!

  • 17 Delicious Dessert, Dinner and Brunch recipes, with full color step-by-step photos, designed for all skill levels.
  • Key points on what really makes a meal “romantic”…besides the food!
  • Cooking Terms Glossary (just in case…)
  • PLUS…your Iron Chef can contact ME, personally, if they have any questions!

Act Fastthe  “Home Chef’s Guide to Valentine’s Day (for Guys!)” is only available for a couple of weeks each year.

Here’s just ONE of the delicious recipes from the free guide (as seen on AM Northwest this morning): Nutella Mug Brownies! Here’s the video from this morning’s segment on AM Northwest!

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Click Image for Video

Nutella Mug BrowniesOne-Minute Nutella Mug Brownies

  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon Nutella
  • 1 Tbsp milk chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, gently whisked
  • 2 Tbs all purpose flour, rounded
  • 2 Tbs homemade whipped cream (see guide)

Adapted from the recipe by Gemma Stafford

In a large microwavable mug add the Nutella and egg and whisk together.

Add flour and mix until you have a smooth batter. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Microwave for roughly 45 seconds – 1 minute. (Microwave timing might vary). Keep a close eye on your mug while in the microwave so it doesn’t overflow or overcook.

Check your brownie at 40 seconds, if it feels firm to the touch it is done, proceed in 10 second increments if it is not done. When the brownie is set and firm on top it is done. Let the brownie cool and minutes before serving

Serve with some homemade whipped cream, or vanilla bean ice-cream, while it’s still warm. (Gemma cooked for 1 minute in her recipe)

Be sure to subscribe to my blog and eNewsletter, and get weekly updates with my latest recipes, Home Chef tips, and MY KITCHEN Outreach updates.

Sign up right HERE!

Note to the guys: The management at SimplySmartDinnerPlans (that’s me) takes NO responsibility for this post being forwarded to you, left on your pillow, or stapled to your chest…especially if it came from your wife or girlfriend!

Looking for more amazing, and simple recipe and how-to videos? Subscribe to my YouTube channel and see them all!

Chef Perry's YouTube Channel 

Now, go cook real food!

~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

The Home Chef
Click on the image to learn more about my HOME CHEF series!

 

Andrew Zimmern’s Swedish Meatballs

This is dinner tonight! I like mine with creamy mashed potatoes, and a fresh “Bob & Larry” salad!
 
Might even have a jar of lingonberry jam around here somewhere…or maybe a trip to Ikea is in order (THAT would be a $300 jar of jam…) 😉
 
Bork bork bork!
 
~Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

The right way to cut with a Chef’s Knife

Here’s a quick video covering the correct way to hold a chef’s knife, and how to grip the food with your other hand to avoid cutting yourself.

Be patient with yourself, many beginners find that this new grip takes some getting used to, but it definitely provides extra control over the blade.

Go Cook!

~Chef Perry

Chef Perry’s Bacon Salmon Chowder

This recipe is an old favorite, my own riff on my Dad’s signature clam chowder, using our fresh Pacific Northwest Salmon.

Bacon Salmon Chowder

BACON SALMON CHOWDER

Ingredients:

STOCK
2 lbs. salmon spine, head, and tail
1 gallon fresh water
1/4 cup fine sea salt
2 Bay leaves
4 cups (total) chopped carrots, shallots, & celery (optional)

CHOWDER
2lbs (2) fresh salmon steaks, cut 4in thick
2 extra-large russet potatoes
1/4 cup sweet cream butter
4 cups chopped carrots, sweet onions, & celery
1lb thick bacon (cooked and chopped)
Fine sea salt
1/4 cup AP flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 Tbs. coarse black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. Mexican chili powder

TOPPINGS
1 (8oz) bag large Garlic-Butter Croutons
Coarse black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley, chopped

FOR THE STOCK:

Bring a gallon of water to a low simmer, in a large stock pot. Add about a Tbs. of sea salt, then the salmon head, spine, and tail.

Simmer, uncovered, for 4-6 hours. You can do this in the morning, or even the day before.

(I like to add some carrots, celery, and shallots, if I’m making more stock than I need for this recipe.)

Once the stock has cooked, scoop out the big pieces with a slotted spoon, discard, and then strain the solids. Then do a second straining, through cheesecloth, to get a clean stock.

Once your stock is strained, wipe the pot clean, set in on a back burner over low heat, and return the stock to it. Keep it warm.

FOR THE CHOWDER:

Peel russet potatoes, and slice them into large cubes, set aside in a bowl, covered in cold water.

Melt butter in a large frying pan, and sauté the chopped celery and onions, over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. You just want them with a little caramelization on the outsides, but still crunchy.

Add the cooked, chopped bacon, and stir it in with the veggies. Let this cook a few more minutes, until the bacon has rendered and is heated through. Remove the bacon and veggies from the pan, reserving as much of the butter and bacon drippings as possible.

Once all of the solids are moved from the pan, raise the heat to medium-high. You can add a little oil here, if needed.

Season both sides of the salmon steaks with fine sea salt.

Fry the salmon until it’s nicely browned, then flip and do the same to the other side. The salmon is still basically raw at this point, but it’ll finish cooking in the stock. This browning is what really adds the flavor to your chowder.

While your browning the salmon, it’s a good time to start heating up the stock, on medium heat. Add the potatoes, then bring the stock to a high simmer.

When the salmon has brown on both sides, move it to the stock pot, on top of the potatoes, and reduce the heat to a low simmer.

Add some butter to the frying pan, if needed, to reach about 1/4 cup of fat in the pan.

Add 1/4 of flour to the fat in the frying pan. Mix and keep it moving until your roux becomes golden brown, and starts to smell nutty.

Once your roux in golden (which means the flour has been cooked), it’s time to start adding the salmon stock, a half a cup at a time. At first, your roux is going to sizzle and seize up into a paste. DON’T PANIC! This is what it’s supposed to do.

Keep adding hot stock, and stirring until smooth, then adding more stock, etc., etc., until you reach the consistency of a thin gravy. Somewhere along here, you’ll want to trade in you spoon for a whisk. Keep whisking, until it’s smooth, with a silky looking finish.

Remove the potatoes and salmon from the stock, and add in your thinned roux, whisking until smooth.

Set the stockpot aside, on low heat, UNCOVERED.

Break the salmon steaks into large chunks. You can go smaller, or even shred it, if you prefer, but I like it like this. Set aside.

Add two cups of WARMED whole milk to the broth, and whisk it in.

Next, add in the salmon chunks.  Carefully add the cooked potatoes, celery, onions, and bacon into the pot, and stir gently, just enough to combine everything.

After tasting our chowder, add a little more sea salt, if needed.

Add black pepper, to taste, and then the Mexican Chili Powder. (If you can’t find the Mexican kind, regular chili powder works, too.) Stir those lovely seasonings into your chowder!

Allow the chowder to rest for about a half an hour, to let the flavors, and then portion it into bowls for serving.

Add some garlic butter croutons on top, then a sprinkle of coarse black pepper (to taste). Finally add a sprinkle of Italian parsley, to give the dish a little color.

And there you have it! Chef Perry’s soon to be famous (hopefully!) Bacon Salmon Chowder.

Guaranteed to warm all the down to those frozen toes!

Serve immediately.

For more delicious, simple, and (mostly) healthy Home Chef recipes, tips, and kitchen tricks, pick up my latest “next level” cookbook, “BACON!: A Home Chef’s Guide” at http://www.perryperkinsbooks.com

And be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you don’t miss a dish!

Let’s Cook!

~Chef Perry