With the outside temperature around 10 degrees F, a chill begins to settle in the bones. The best way I’ve found to dispel the cold is a bowl or two of piping warm fish chowder. There are many variations on the New England chowder recipe. Any fish will work. I’ve used haddock, pollock, cod, salmon, even some pickerel I caught ice fishing. Also good are shellfish like clams, mussels or oysters. Once I shelled a bunch of tiny periwinkles picked from the rocks by the sea, they were delicious. More important than the species used is that there is plenty so the chowder is full of fish.
The basic ingredients are potatoes, onions, some form of fat, fish and milk. Some use salt pork or butter, I prefer bacon. Most New Englanders like their chowder thick and creamy. They use full cream, half and half, or my choice, evaporated milk. Some use plain milk. The cooked potatoes help to thicken the broth, as does creamed corn, flour can also be added.
This is my personal recipe, one I’ve made dozens of times. It never fails to warm my bones on a freezing day.
1 quart water
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into large cubes
2-3 slices bacon
1 medium onion chopped
15 oz canned corn, whole or creamed
12 oz evaporated milk
1-1.5 pounds raw fish, rinsed and cut to large bite size
1 bay leaf
Pinch or so each, to taste: oregano, basil, pepper, rosemary and marjoram
In 4 qt stock or sauce pan on medium heat, cook bacon until fat runs, cut bacon into small pieces and add onions. Heat, stirring, until the onions begin to brown. Add the water, herbs and potatoes. Cover and cook about 8 minutes until potatoes start to tenderize. Stir in corn and fish. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes until fish is cooked. Gently stir in milk, cover and simmer until heated through. Serve hot with crisp bread or crackers. Makes about 2 quarts.