What could be more appropriate on a winter night in Maine than warm, comforting fish chowder? Well, nothing else came to mind, so this week’s recipe is one for Fish Chowder from the Portland Symphony Cookbook. This is my first time trying this recipe – there are two fish chowder recipes in Recipes from the Maine Kitchen that I know well and love – but I wanted to branch out.
Chowder is a traditional and popular New England dish. The root of the word is believed to be from the French word, “chaudiere,” which means pot. Clam chowder, perhaps the best known of the chowders, is made, of course, with chopped clams and potatoes. There are many variations of fish chowder, and the one below calls for haddock. I used cod in this case, because my grocery store didn’t have any fresh haddock today.
If you have the cookbook, this recipe can be found on page 52. You’ll need:
- 1 lb. salt pork, diced
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 5 medium potatoes, cubed
- 2 lbs. fillet of haddock, skinned
- Roughly 1 quart milk
- 1 small can of evaporated milk
Fry the salt pork until crisp, drain and set aside.
Leave 4 or 5 pieces of salt pork, as well as 1 tablespoon of fat, in the pot. Add onion and simmer briefly. Cover with water and boil for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cover with water. Simmer until nearly cooked.
Lay haddock (or other white fish) on top of the potatoes and onions and steam until cooked. Add enough milk to cover the fish, and then add the can of evaporated milk. Be careful not to boil while the milk is heating. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle pork chips on each dish.
This recipe was excellent – maybe my husband’s favorite chowder that I’ve made – but I did modify a few things:
I added about a half cup of Chardonnay at the end of cooking – the broth seemed a little bland to me – and that flavor really made a difference. And I’ll admit, I was skeptical of the salt pork up until I sprinkled it atop my chowder and dug in. It was a delicious, salty garnish and set off the chowder perfectly. I’ve also learned that incorporating salt pork into chowder is a traditionally New England approach. Ultimately, I did not dice it prior to cooking – it seemed easier to fry it until crispy and then crumble it, which worked quite well. I think you could also add celery, and possibly even fennel and other vegetables, to this recipe and get a great end result. Speaking of results, here are mine: