There is nothing better than a good fresh chowder, whether it be corn, clam or in this case fish chowder. I had some haddock from Red's Best
in the freezer and wanted to make a meal of it that was a little different than baking or frying fish. This was perfect.
Fish Chowder with Salt Pork Cracklin's
My mother always made fish chowder with milk, never with cream, but I like mine with a little more body so I decided to use heavy cream. Feel free to use milk, half and half or even fish stock to get a lighter dish. And sometimes I wonder if I am making potato chowder with fish or fish chowder with potatoes. I prefer the former. But again, depending how light or heavy you want it to be, you can certainly alter the quantity of potatoes in the chowder.
And of course the salt pork to start the whole dish. You could use bacon I suppose, or omit it and just use oil. But there is something about rendering salt pork to start a dish that adds great depth to that dish. And of course the real reason you do it is to get the "cracklins." Those crunchy, salty, crispy bits of salt pork that are the result of rendering that fat. We only use 2 ounces here, but you certainly could use more. They are so good on top of the chowder that people will be fighting over them. Check out our technique article Everything You Need to Know Before Cooking with Salt Pork
However you decide to make it, stop back and let us know. We are always interested in different interpretations of a recipe. Enjoy!
1. In a medium sized heavy dutch oven over medium-low heat, add the oil and the salt pork and render the salt pork until it is crisp. Remove the salt pork pieces to a paper towel and reserve. Leave the fat in the pan.
Cubed Salt Pork
2. Pour the water into a 3- to 4-quart pot and add the potatoes. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 5-8 minutes.
Cubed Potatoes Stored in Water Until Ready to Use
3. While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter with the rendered salt pork fat over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat to low until the potatoes are done.
Chopped Onion and Celery
4. Using a slotted spoon or spider, add the potatoes to the vegetable mix, reserving the potato liquid.
5. Add 2 cups of the potato cooking liquid to the pot with the potatoes and other vegetables.
6. Add the cream and the spices to the pot and stir until mixed. Bring it up to a slow simmer.
7. Add the fish to the pot and again bring it up to a slow simmer. At this point you can add more of the potato liquid to get it to your desired thickness. Continue to simmer until the fish begins to flake, and is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Some of the thinner parts of the fish will start to fall apart which is good. It will add texture to the chowder. But try to keep some of the bigger pieces of fish intact for presentation purposes.
Chowder Ready to Serve