October 26, 2023
If you’re on the fall walleye bite right now and wondering how to prepare your bounty, think out of the golden-fried box for a second. Remember: Nothing beats a hot bowl of chowder on a crisp October or November evening. Even better if the chowder is homemade with big meaty chunks of walleye. And yes, this recipe is perfect for lunch at deer camp, especially if prepared ahead, refrigerated and slowly heated up.
Although my walleye chowder varies a little bit each time I prepare it—depending on the ingredients on hand—follow these steps and you’ll end up with a champion one-dish meal.
So, the template for this successful recipe was taken from Sherry Day’s Michigan Whitefish Chowder recipe found here. We’ll give credit where it’s due.
But you’ll notice I made some changes to Sherry’s recipe. Like more bacon, cream, smoked fish, white pepper, and a few other flourishes. Sherry’s recipe seemed too … what’s the word? Healthy.
4 cups water
2 cups Kitchen Basics (or homemade) seafood stock
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream
5 bacon strips
2 pounds of chunked walleye
3/4 pound smoked whitefish
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 leeks (white part), sliced
4 Idaho Gold potatoes, diced (with the skin on)
4 bay leaves
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp white pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
5 or 6 drops of Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil
1/2 - 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Combine 4 cups of water, two bay leaves and walleye chunks in a cast iron skillet. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat, then let the fish simmer for 10 minutes.
Transfer the fish to a bowl, place in the refrigerator.
Fry bacon until slightly crisp in a cast iron dutch oven.
Drain bacon on paper towels, crumble when cool.
Add diced celery, onion and leeks to the bacon grease. Sautee until translucent.
Add the 4 cups of water used to simmer the fish to the sautéed vegetables. Add two more bay leaves, 5 or 6 drops of Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil, 1 tsp dried dill weed, a generous sprinkling of Old Bay Seasoning, 1/2 tsp white pepper and salt/black pepper to taste.
Add 2 cups of seafood stock to the mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add 2 1/2 cups milk, potatoes, smoked whitefish, and bacon and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup cream and let simmer (do not boil) for an additional 10 minutes.
Retrieve walleye from the refrigerator and add to the mixture.
Let the flavors commingle on low heat for as long as you can stand it.
Serve in man-sized bowls with spoons big enough to shovel snow.
Add black pepper as required.
Serve with butter-slathered, homemade bread.