- 2 slices bacon, lean, cut in small strips
- 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 1 medium onion (6-7 ounces), cut in ½ inch dice
- 3-4 sprigs thyme, fresh
- 1 bay leaf, dried
- 1 pound potatoes, Yukon Gold preferred, peeled and chopped in ½ inch dice
- 3 cups strong fish stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds fish fillets, skinless - non oily fish (haddock, cod, pollock, cusk)
- 1 cup heavy cream (may use less)
Heat a 4-quart heavy pot over low heat, and add the bacon and butter. Cook the bacon slowly so that some of the fat renders, then increase heat and cook bacon until brown and crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pot. Reserve the bacon until later.
Add onions, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are softened and tender but not browned. Add the potatoes and stock – the stock should come right up to the top of the potatoes. If it doesn’t, add a bit of water so that they are just covered.
Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes about 10 minutes, until they are just cooked through. If the stock hasn’t thickened slightly, smash a few of the potato chunks against the side of the pot and cook a minute or two longer to release their starch.
Reduce heat to low, and season assertively with salt and pepper. Go heavy on the seasonings now, because you won’t want to stir much once the fish goes in.
Lay the fish fillets on top of the potatoes, cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes more, so that the fish cooks through completely.
Gently stir in the cream and taste. Adjust seasonings, garnish with the reserved bacon bits, and serve promptly.
Note: may be made ahead. Let the chowder cool completely, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat – do not let the chowder boil.