For this week’s video, I wanted to make something fresh in the middle of the winter. Orange was going to be the theme. I was thinking citrus-cured trout with golden beets and pickled carrots. Then I got sick, and my desire for something fresh turned into a desire for something comforting. Although cream isn’t the best for a cold, this recipe relies more on chicken (or in my case, turkey) stock — a surefire weapon against sickness. This chowder is enhanced by some pork cheek that I cured a couple months ago and by sunchokes instead of potatoes.

The fish come from Star Prairie, a small trout farm situated on the Apple River in western Wisconsin. The ponds are directly fed by cold fresh spring water that stays at a constant 48-degree temperature, causing the trout to grow slowly. They are fed neither  additives nor medication. Although 300,000 fish seems like a lot to me, I’m no fish farmer, and apparently the trout have plenty of space.

Trout chowder

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup diced guanciale (or pancetta)
1 onion, small dice
1 small rainbow trout
1 smoked trout, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb sunchokes, peeled and diced
2 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, turkey, or fish)
1/4 cup wild rice (hand-harvested)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon minced marjoram
1 tablespoon minced thyme

While preparing other ingredients, cook wild rice in 1 cup of water and a little salt until cooked through. Drain and pour off excess water if necessary.

Put guanciale in pan with water to cover. Let simmer until water dissolves and fat renders out. Cook until guanciale turns brown and crispy. Remove guanciale to a paper towel and reserve for later.

Add butter to the rendered fat from the guanciale. Sautee the onion with a little salt until translucent. Add the diced sunchokes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the herbs and saute for 2 more minutes. Add the stock as well as any fish head or bones you may have and simmer until the sunchokes are cooked through (no more than 10 minutes). Taste the broth and season accordingly.

Place the fresh trout in the hot broth followed by the smoked trout. As the fish cooks it will break apart. Heat the trout until just cooked, add the cream and bring the liquid to a light simmer.

Serve in a bowl with the crispy guanciale on top and perhaps some crusty multi-grain bread on the side.