Is it too much of a cliche for a woman who lives in Maine to begin a blog with a chowder recipe? The fact is, they just happened to coincide. And everyone just happened to really like this recipe – so much so that they moaned about it. In a good way. I know I’ve gotten a recipe just right when my daughter, Chloe, does a little guttural thing in the back of her throat when she says the name of the recipe and E, my right hand woman, says, again in that guttural tone,
"That was sooo good."
There are several components that make a chowder traditional and this recipe is missing one. A real fish chowder is thickened with either oyster crackers or day old biscuits and this one is thickened with flour, which makes it Cream of Fish Soup, but that title just doesn’t sound as good. Instead I’m writing this disclaimer.
Fish chowder is also made with salt pork not bacon and milk not cream – this recipe has both. The night I made it was one of those cold, rainy, bone-chilling spring nights that cause you to turn the heat back on after swearing it was staying off until September. We all warmed our hands on the bowls before spooning out thick, creamy mouthfuls.
Fish Chowder – It’s Not Traditional
4 oz. salt pork
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups diced onions, about 1 large onion
2 cups diced celery, about 3 stalks
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups clam stock
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
Score the salt pork by making cuts with your knife only part of the way through the softer side. Your square cuts should be about 1/2-inch. Place it in a large stockpot, scored side down, over medium heat. Render for 5 minutes, which means wait until you can see some fat that has cooked out. Add the butter, onions, celery, salt and pepper and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir until incorporated. Stir frequently for another 1-2 minutes to cook the flour. Add the stock and stir vigorously until the stock is all combined with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes. When the potatoes are cooked through, add the cream and milk and bring to a boil again. Reduce to a simmer and cover until ready to serve.
© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing