Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Seven

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother's kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? ..."

One the whole, my family (either side, really) isn't known for handing down shared recipes. Both of my grandmother's were good cooks, though at least one only developed the skill later in life -- after my mother had left home (or was at least away at school).

My grandmother's fish chowder is the one recipe I remember other members of my family wanting to replicate.

New England Fish Chowder

(Serves 8)

3 ½ to 4 lbs. of haddock or cod (with head and bones)

2-inch cube of lean salt pork (freeze to cut up easily)

2 medium onions, sliced

4 cups potatoes, sliced

4 cups hot milk

1 tablespoon salt

1/8th teaspoon ground pepper

bay leaf (optional)

Simmer fish head and bones with bay leaf in 3 cups water for ½ hour. Drain, reserving the stock. Simmer fish in stock until just done. Cut pork in tiny pieces and fry to a light brown; remove pork scraps. Add onion to fat and cook slowly for about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook about 3 minutes. Add fish liquor and enough water to cover potatoes, cook until potatoes are nearly done; add fish, hot milk and seasonings. Simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with warm pork scraps.

Foxcroft Cookbook, 1969, revised 1989

I remember watching her make this every summer in Maine. Though by the time I learned, the whole fish with head and bones had been replaced by fillets and bottled clam juice. I can make a passable version, though I use clams, since I'm not a huge fish fan. But I never need the recipe to make it. It's ingrained in me from many summers watching, helping, and learning.

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