With the closure of the fall fishing season, sportsmen become vulnerable to a deep and dark gloominess that can deprive them of the desire to shuffle out of their bunks in the morning. Shock therapy is one potential cure, but a more reasonable alternative is to find new out-of-door pursuits, such as deer hunting and ice fishing golf. (Yes, ice fishing golf exists! I tried it for the first time last year with the sport’s founding father, fishing guru James Edlund. It was a hoot.)
The sportsman-chef is especially vulnerable to gloominess at this time of year, for he can neither fish nor cook with his catch. (I can become a basket case at this time of year, I admit.) Theoretically, a man could protest this dismal state of affairs by launching a hunger strike aimed at God, but a more reasonable alternative would be to find new sources of fish.
The fall months are great for experimentation in the kitchen with fish from other places. In the mid-fall, my brother (an Alaskan commercial fisherman) begins shipping halibut to the lower 48 states. Try it! A more reasonably-priced alternative is canned crab, which is available from many grocery stores for a few bucks a can. One of my favorite fishes for the off-season is smoked fish. It can be purchased from many grocery stores year around—and it is super easy to make and freeze in the summer for use in the fall. My freezer is often full of it.
I created the following recipe specifically for the fall because it uses fall vegetables and your choice of smoked fish or canned crab meat. It is creamy, rich, flavorful, and filling. Your kids will barely know that it has squash in it.
1 ¼ cups of roasted butternut squash, mashed (see Step I below)
2/3 cup smoked fish, broken into bite-sized pieces (bones removed) OR one six-ounce can of lump crab meat
1 tablespoon olive oil
1Vidalia or yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced potato
3 cups fish or chicken broth (to make fish broth, boil the bones and head from 1 fish in 4 cups of water plus 1
teaspoon of salt for 30 minutes; and then separate the bones from the broth with strainer)
2 cups water
2/3 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
¾ teaspoon curry powder
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2/3 cup heavy cream
Several pinches of cayenne (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Step I. Directions for roasted squash: Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and rub the meat with olive oil. Place face down on cookie sheet and bake 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Scoop meat from the skin and mash with a fork.
Step II. Directions for soup: In a large, thick saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in olive oil for several minutes until onion turns translucent. Add potato and sauté for another minute, stirring. Add broth and water and bring to a simmer. Add rosemary and curry, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked squash and crushed garlic and stir. Simmer for 3-4 more minutes. Blend with a handheld blender or in a food processor until the liquid is free of lumps (add a little water if mixture is thick), but do not over blend so that mixture becomes gluey. Return the mixture to the saucepan, add fish or crab (if using crab, include the liquid), and simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream, cayenne, and parsley, and stir. Adjust salt and pepper.
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