Living on the Seacoast in New England means two things: we have a lot of fish and it’s cold outside a lot of the time. Therefore, hearty, bracing seafood dishes are our birthright. It drives landlocked, seafood-less people to travel to our beautiful region in search of our famous cuisine.
We were on a mission when we scoured Google and our recipe books in search of a hearty, authentic New England Fish Chowder recipe that stood up to our standards. It had to be traditional, and it had to treat the ingredients honorably. We tried several recipes, and many were just ok. This one, by New England food authority Jasper White, was right on.
We used our Peruvian Pink salt in place of Kosher salt, because we like what it does to soups and stews.
We would like to suggest you cut everything in our Himalayan Salt Blocks. Doing so will salt your ingredients nicely.
New England Fish Chowder
Epicurious | August 2000
by Jasper White
Makes about 14 cups; serves 8 as a main course
To me, this is the most authentic and most important recipe in this book. It is the gold standard for chowder: a hearty main course with deep flavors, luxurious texture, and generous chunks of fish, onion, and potato. New England Fish Chowder is easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and doesn't require you to be fussy or exact. After making this chowder a few times, you will begin to understand the Zen of chowder.
- 4 ounces meaty salt pork, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 6 to 8 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3-inch thick
- 5 cups Strong Fish Stock ,Traditional Fish Stock ,Chicken Stock , or water (as a last resort)
- Sel Gris or Peruvian Pink salt* and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds skinless haddock or cod fillets, preferably over 1 inch thick, pinbones removed
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced salt pork. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the pork is a crisp golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cracklings to a small ovenproof dish, leaving the fat in the pot, and reserve until later.
- Add the butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onions and softened but not browned.
- Add the potatoes and stock. If the stock doesn’t cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. If the stock hasn’4hickened lightly, smash a few of the potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for a minute or two longer to release their starch. Reduce the heat to low and season assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added). Add the fish fillets and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).
- Gently stir in the cream and taste for salt and pepper. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.
- When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil. Warm the cracklings in a low oven (200 °F) for a few minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to mound the chunks of fish, the onions, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the creamy broth around. Scatter the cracklings over the individual servings and finish each with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and minced chives.
*The original recipe just calls for Kosher or sea salt but we think the addition of our salts make it all the better!
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