I’ve said it before and I can’t help but say it again. I love living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. And, if you have a few minutes, I’ll give you three reasons why. First of all, it’s a beautiful place. There are mountains, lakes, and rivers just minutes away. Second, it’s not crowded like large metropolitan cities such as Portland or Seattle. You can drive 20 minutes in any direction and end up somewhere in the beautiful Southern Oregon countryside. Third, I think that it has the best of both worlds. There’s plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping and also there’s the nearby Oregon Shakespeare Festival, dozens of vineyards and microbreweries, and a number of wonderful restaurants that feature spectacular local ingredients.
I always love visiting the Rogue River. Whether it be for hiking along the banks, rafting or my favorite river activity, fishing. One day on my lunch hour, I briefly stopped by the Rogue River near Touvelle State Park and decided to snap a few photos. It was a bit overcast that afternoon but the temperature was nearly perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. Looking down at the river from the top of the bridge, it’s easy to imagine large fish swimming in the cold deep water below the surface. And, if you are lucky, you might even see one!
Many types of fish inhabit the Rogue River. There’s steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, green sturgeon, coho salmon, and so many more species of fish. My two favorites are steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. I prepare those varieties of fish quite often for my family. As a matter of fact, I serve fish for my family at least once a week. When selecting fish, I prefer to prepare wild caught fish as opposed to farm raised fish. In my opinion, the flavor is better, there are no chemicals or additives, no color enhancements or antibiotics. If given a choice between wild and farm raised fish, the decision is easy. Wild caught fish is your best bet.
My Smoked Steelhead Chowder is a deliciously creamy soup made with smoky bacon, roasted russet potatoes, tender onion, fresh thyme and a splash of heavy cream. It’s prepared similarly to a New England style clam chowder but with smoked tender steelhead instead. It’s great with a slice of warm crusty bread, a crispy green salad or a hot grilled sandwich. If you are not able to obtain smoked steelhead where you live, feel free to substitute the smoked steelhead with some good quality smoked salmon instead. Enjoy! Tessa
- 1/4 pound Smoked Steelhead Trout (skin and bones removed, chopped coarsely)
- 5 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbs. Butter
- 1/3 cup Flour
- 2 Tbs. Tomato paste
- 1 pound Russet Potatoes – peeled and diced
- 1 large White Onion – peeled and diced
- 4 oz. Bacon – chopped
- 1 tsp. fresh Thyme
- 1 – 2 tsp. Olive Oil
- 1 tsp. Seasoning Salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (or to taste)
- fresh minced Parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a sheet tray or baking pan toss together diced potatoes, diced onions, 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil and seasoning salt. Arrange potatoes and onions in a single layer to ensure even cooking. Bake until the potatoes and onions begin to turn golden brown or about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, grab a large heavy pot and place it on the stove. Turn burner to medium high heat. Add chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside. Turn down heat to low, add 2 Tbs. butter and 1/3 cup flour to the remaining bacon fat to make a blonde roux. Whisk flour mixture constantly, taking care not to burn, and cook until a very light golden brown. Whisk 5 cups milk and 2 Tbs. tomato paste and cook until almost ready to boil, whisking constantly. Add smoked steelhead, bacon, potatoes, onions, 1 tsp. fresh thyme, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared, for about 1/2 hour. Add heavy cream, taste and correct your seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped smoked steelhead trout and fresh minced parsley. Makes about 2 quarts or 8 servings.