Elgin soup kettle reels in salmon for special menu
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News August 21, 2012 9:20PM
The Sporting Chef Scott Leysath of the Sportsman Channel, pulls out a fresh pan of salmon to hand to volunteer Mary Rees Freeman (right) Tuesday at Zion Lutheran Church in Elgin during a Hunt.Fish.Feed program that feeds the homeless and less fortunate. The fish was caught this past weekend at the Salmon Unlimited Tournament on Lake Michigan. The Hunt.Fish.Feed. is an outreach program that feeds those in need game meat and fish donated by sportsman. August 21, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:26AM
ELGIN — Fresh-caught, poached salmon prepared by a master chef is something residents who take advantage of Elgin’s soup kettles don’t often get.
On Tuesday, however, about 50 residents were treated to the salmon — caught Saturday on Lake Michigan’s Winthrop Harbor — as well as venison tacos, black beans and dessert.
Hunt.Fish.Feed. is a program by the Wisconsin-based cable TV network Sportsman Channel. Representatives from the channel stopped in Elgin, feeding 500 pounds of freshly caught fish and donated venison to those who stopped in at Zion Lutheran Church, 330 Griswold St.
Since the program’s inception in 2007, 16,000 meals have been served in 30 locations to those in need, said Ryan Nolan, publicist with the network. An estimated 6,000 pounds of meat have been donated, with most of the salmon coming from fishing tournaments, he said.
Elgin’s fish came from a tournament sponsored by Salmon Unlimited, as well as the network at Comcast. “We had 50 or 60 boats out in the harbor,” said Lisa Swan, senior marketing manager with the network.
The venison is donated through the Mule Deer Foundation, which helps to finance shipping meat to these events.
The Sportsman Channel connected to Elgin through Tammy Duckworth, 8th District Democratic congressional candidate, Swan said. Duckworth spoke with the network during an event and talked about how she volunteered with the Greater Elgin Food Network in the past, Swan said.
Duckworth took her station on Tuesday as well, pouring coffee for the soup kettle’s clients.
Every night of the week, seven Elgin churches take turns serving those in need of food security. “These are predominately the working poor,” said Dennis Hewitt, executive director at Public Action to Deliver Shelter of Elgin. PADS does not run it but cooperates with the soup kettle program.
Scott Leysath prepared the meal. He has cooking shows on the network, “Hunt Fish Cook” and “Dead Meat.” The second, newer show goes around the country and shows some of the local delicacies, from Minnesota’s eelpout fish to Floridians catching and eating non-native pythons and iguanas.
None of those, however, appeared on the menu this week.
Poaching salmon is the easiest way to prepare the fish for a large group, Leysath said. The leftovers can also easily be added to salads or made into fish cakes, he explained.
To prepare the fish, he boils chicken stock, lemon juice, lemons and onion, and pours the wet mix over the salmon until the fish is not quite covered. The fish was then cooked at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. He made a dill sauce to complement the fish, too.
The results were delicious.
“I don’t eat fish, but I tried a piece of it,” said Lisa Kasyan, one of the diners. She, however, had two of the venison tacos. “The beans were wonderful, too, and I am not a bean eater,” she said.
Tim Davis agreed.
“The fish was really good and it was cooked just right,” Davis said.