After living in New England for almost seven years, chowder has become a staple in our home and restaurant outings. Whether it’s fish chowder like this one or classic clam chowder, even scallop chowder – we love it all. Today, I’m sharing an easy way to make a delicious chowder with fresh white fish.
One of the easiest ways to feel like you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, while still in your own home miles away, is by cooking up a delicious recipe that will bring back memories of your time on the island. This month, we want to share a great recipe for New England Style Fish Chowder, which you can recreate at home with a few ingredients.
New England is said to have its very own cuisine – one that focuses on the sea more than the land, and Martha’s Vineyard takes that cuisine even further by supporting their local fishermen as much as possible. The first and oldest-known printed fish chowder recipe was in the Boston Evening Post on September 23,1751. The history of chowder is impressive, but no more impressive than holding a bowl of warm chowder yourself and diving in. Let’s cook! For this recipe, you can use any white fish you can find at your local fish market, such as cod, barramundi, pollock, or any other firm white fish.
As someone that’s lives on Martha’s Vineyard and someone that makes hundreds of gallons of chowder in the season on Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve become very sensitive to what a classic chowder should be. Granted, everyone has their own way of doing things, but here’s my method:
- grab your favorite pork product, whether it’s bacon or salt pork and render the fat
- add your aromatics, meaning your onions and saute those with butter until translucent
- mix the pork product, along with all its rendered fat, with the onions and butter – here’s where you add your thickening agent (typically flour)
- from there, you add your liquids – fish stock, clam juice, half and half, cream
- in the meantime, you’ll cook your potatoes separately – no one likes mushy potatoes in their chowder
- whisking to bring it all together, you’ll finish it be seasoning with some salt and pepper, possibly a hit of hot house
It’s that simple. NO need to add carrots, leeks, dill – and let’s not even talk about that “other chowder” that’s tomato based. We’re in New England, for goodness sake!
Photography by Stacey Rupolo / Recipe by Cooking with Books
- 10 small potatoes, quartered
- 4 strips bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups fish or clam stock
- 2½ cups half and half
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- 2 pounds fresh white fish, pin bones removed, fillets cut into 2-inch pieces
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium pot, simmer the potatoes until al dente - slightly tender on the outside but still not tender all the way. Drain and chill.
- In a large pot over medium heat, start by cooking the chopped bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the butter and chopped onion. Cook until translucent and aromatic, about ten minutes.
- Whisk in flour and cook for another five minutes over medium heat. Slowly incorporate the clam stock and half and half. Lower heat and stir in hot sauce (optional). Simmer for 10 more minutes until it thickens and comes together.
- Drop in cubed, raw fish and simmer slowly until fish cooks all the way through. Taste and season as needed. Serve with oyster crackers and extra hot sauce if desired.