River's Copper River Chowder

Recipe by River
READY IN: 8hrs
YIELD: 10 quarts


  • For stock
  • 7
    quarts water
  • 2
    meaty salmon back fish bones, and other trim, from 2 30 to 40 lb. copper river king salmons
  • 1
    large vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1
    large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3
    scallions, chopped, including leaves
  • 2
    large carrots, chopped
  • 4
    stalks celery, chopped
  • 1
    teaspoon dill
  • 1
    teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 12 - 1
  • For chowder
  • 12
  • 12
    gallon milk
  • 6
    cups strong salmon fish stock, made with stock ingredients above
  • 4 -5
    large red potatoes, diced
  • 8
    tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 4
    lbs corn kernels, preferably sweet backyard corn
  • 2
    cups madeira wine (optional)
  • 1
    lb bacon, ends and pieces, cut up into small pieces
  • 1 -2
    teaspoon dill
  • 14 - 12
    teaspoon thyme
  • 14 - 12
    teaspoon basil
  • 14 - 12
    teaspoon rosemary
  • 14 - 12
    teaspoon marjoram
  • 12 - 1
  • 1
    tablespoon organic culinary-grade lavender (optional)
  • 12
    cups copper river salmon, from trim
  • 4
    bay leaves (preferably California Bay Laurel, but the more commonly-found and cheaper Turkish will do fine)


  • First, make salmon stock: Cut up the salmon trim and split it between two large stockpots, unless you have a stockpot large enough to hold everything.
  • Cover with water.
  • Skim scum as it appears.
  • Simmer just until the salmon meat is cooked, then take out the trim and pick all the meat off the bones.
  • Reserve the meat and refrigerate.
  • Put the bones, fins, and tails back into one of the stockpots.
  • Cook on low for an hour or two, skimming off scum.
  • Take out the rest of the salmon trim.
  • Add the chopped veggies and spices.
  • Simmer over low to medium heat until reduced by about 2/3.
  • Strain through dampened cheesecloth, pressing out all the liquid or as much of it as you can get.
  • Dump the mass of vegetables and what few bones remain, and reserve and measure the liquid.
  • You should have about 6 cups; If there's more, reduce further or use as is.
  • Second, make the chowder using the stock: Fry the bacon in a large stockpot.
  • Pour off most of the bacon fat, saving just a little to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Add half-and-half and stock.
  • Turn heat midway between low and medium.
  • Add salmon meat.
  • Add potatoes.
  • Add pepper, dill, thyme, basil, rosemary, marjoram, and lavender.
  • Simmer slowly for 1/2 hour to give the flavors a chance to marry.
  • Get out a second stockpot and split the above ingredients between the two.
  • Add 1 quart milk to each pot.
  • Add 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter to each pot, if you're using butter.
  • Add half the corn to each pot.
  • Add two bay leaves to each pot.
  • Bring both pots to a gentle simmer and cover most of the way (the lid should be cockeyed to allow a little steam to escape).
  • Let simmer on low heat for about 3 hours, being careful not to let it boil; stir occasionally.
  • Add half the Madeira (if you're using it) to each pot and simmer for another half hour.
  • Serve.