Recipes to rescue those aging frozen packs
Don’t discard them: Chowders, sauces and stews will usually hide the distress of a piece of fish or game that has spent a little too much time in the freezer.
HERE ARE SOME ideas for a New Year’s resolution that will give you some sense of accomplishment and help keep your food budget in line as you use food that you have hidden away in your freezer.
Most of us who hunt or fish have some kind of old or distressed fish or game in the shadowy depths of our freezers. These packages of frozen fruits of your hunting and fishing trips do not deserve to be relegated to the dump. Even if the fish or game has a bit of freezer burn, these recipes and instructions will usually make them more than palatable, even very tasty and nutritious.
First of all, unless you are stressed for time, pull out whatever package you want to use and let it naturally thaw.
Using your microwave for defrosting will usually degrade your game or fish even more.
We even have a technique to cook your main ingredient from its frozen state, without thawing.
We’ll start with fish and two recipes that work with all fish, even those that are often thought of as “too oily,” such as bluefish, mackerel or trout and salmon.
With these recipes, you may start your cooking with a frozen product, even if there is evidence of freezer burn.
Use whatever cooking vessel will allow you to cook your frozen block of fish by barely covering it with slightly salted water. Simmer until the fish will flake and then remove to a bowl large enough to prevent overflow.
Skim off any fat that is on the surface of the fish broth.
Reserve enough of the fat-free broth for your fish chowder.
Remove all skin and bones or any other waste, leaving only flakes of cooked fish.
In a pot large enough for your finished chowder, sauté a quantity of chopped onions until translucent in either butter or tried-out salt pork fat. Don’t skimp on the butter or pork. We like to use about a one-to-10 ratio of onions to fish flakes. If you like celery in your chowder, add equal amounts to sauté.
Cut up a quantity of white potatoes about equal to the amount of fish, skin on or off, whatever your preference. Add the broth, potatoes and fish to the pot and set to simmer at a fairly active pace. We like to season with ground celery seed and thyme and just a touch of garlic powder.
When the potatoes are cooked to a softness, add about the same amount of evaporated milk as you had for fish broth. For richer chowder substitute some light cream.
You’ll probably discover at this point that your chowder lacks the smoothness and richness you like. Add both salt and a bit of granulated sugar, a little at a time, continually tasting until you have reached a nice blend of tastes with no raw edge. Serve with a crusty white bread and plenty of butter.
For making creamed fish that is served over crackers, cooked potato or rice, prepare the fish as you would for chowder.
Using far less chopped onion, but also adding some finely chopped green or sweet red pepper, sauté in butter in a non-stick frypan and when translucent add fish flakes.
The amount of butter used will determine the richness, so go light for your first attempt at this dish and let the experience dictate butter amounts next time. Start with one or two tablespoons.
When the melted butter has been well dispersed into the fish, onions and pepper, stir in the same amount of white flour as your butter on light heat until the flour disappears.
If your fish is salmon or trout, you may want to add cooked peas to your taste.
Then slowly add whole milk, evaporated milk or cream until the desired thickness of the cream sauce is achieved. You may have to add liquid as you go to prevent the sauce from being too thick.
Serve over saltine-type crackers, toasted English muffins, boiled potatoes or cooked rice. Season to individual tastes with salt or pepper.
Here’s a real quick game stew recipe. Sauté chopped onions and/or peppers in a large pot. When translucent add cubed game meat and enough water to cover. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder (optional) and Bell’s Seasoning or sage.
When meat is cooked add cubed white potatoes and carrot rounds. Cook until veggies are soft.
In a pint jar with cover, put a couple of heaping tablespoons of white flour. Dip hot broth from the pot into the jar, stirring or shaking. (I use cooking mitts to prevent hand burn).
When the flour is absorbed, stir into boiling stew, a little at a time and stop when the preferred thickness of the broth is achieved. Then add salt and white sugar as needed to bring the richness out.
Serve with toasted garlic bread sticks or crusty, hearty bread. Voila!