Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daniel Webster Fish Chowder

full disclosure: this is one of the very few, perhaps only recipe on this blog I have not made/tested

I recently found this recipe in a note from Grandmother Up Down, starting “Dear Pris – Here is a ‘real’ Daniel Webster Fish Chowder recipe from an old Cape Codder … Currier]”. I find this recipe interesting given a descendant of Daniel Webster unsuccessfully sued a Boston establishment because a fish bone from the chowder she was eating lodged in her throat and apparently caused injury (Priscilla Webster v. Blue Ship Tea Room 347 Mass.421 (1964) – the judge’s decision is noted for its prose and for incorporating the Daniel Webster chowder recipe.

This appears to be a basic fish chowder if one follows Currier’s modifications, rather than the original recipe. I would also replace the salt pork with a few teaspoons of olive oil (and not add excess oil to chowder) and omit or greatly reduce the salt. As do the Curriers, I would omit adding crackers to the chowder but serve with oyster crackers.

“4 lbs cod or haddock
6 cups potatoes in ¼ inch slices OR
4 cups potatoes cut in ¾ inch cubes (preferred by Curriers)
1 slice onion
1 ½ inch cube of salt pork [omit]
1 T salt [omit, greatly reduce]
3 T butter
4 cups scalded milk
8 common crackers or Pilot Biscuits (Curriers omit these)

Order fish skinned – head and tail left on. Cut off head and tail and remove fish from backbone (Curriers say P. S. ‘I get filleted haddock and do not do the fish, bone, head and tail part, although a real Daniel Webster should be done that way’) Cut fish in 2 inch pieces. (If a real Daniel Webster then put head, tail and backbone broken in pieces in stew pan, add 2 cups cold water & bring slowly to boil; cook 20 minutes). Cut salt pork in small pieces & fry out [sic.], add onion and fry for 2 minutes, strain fat into stew pan. Parboil potatoes in boiling water to cover (five minutes); drain and add potatoes to fat; then add 2 cups of boiling water and cook for five minutes (Add liquor made from bones if real D. W.) Simmer 20 minutes. Add salt, milk, pepper, butter and crackers (if any) moistened in cold milk. Eat. Love J”

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