Monday, October 16, 2006

New England Fish Chowder and English Muffins

fall comfort food
recipes #100 and 101

It's sweater season here. This is good news food wise. Soups, breads, baking, roasting, squash, apples. . . .

I decided to start with chowder, which I have never made from scratch before.

Last month at the farmers market we bought some fish that I just found at the back/bottom of the freezer. Neither of us could remember quite what it was, but it was white and looked like it would be flaky, so chowder seemed like a good plan for it.

The other thing is that this is recipe #100. 100 recipes have really changed the landscape of my fridge. I no longer have mayo (I can make it myself now!) but I have 6 different kinds of mustard. I always used to have english muffins in my fridge. They were good for breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, the kids loved them. I realized I had no idea how they were made, so, I learned.

This recipe is modified from
4 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
6 to 8 sprigs fresh summer savory or thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 dried bay leaves
2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3-inch thick
5 cups Strong Fish Stock, Traditional Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, or water (as a last resort)
1 cup corn kernels
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds skinless haddock or cod fillets, preferably over 1 inch thick, pinbones removed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (or up to 2 cups if desired)

1. Cook bacon in a heavy cast iron pot until crispy. Remove bacon, chop and reserve.

2. Add the butter, onions, savory or thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onions and softened but not browned.

3. Add the potatoes, corn and stock. If the stock doesn’t cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center. If the stock hasn’t thickened lightly, smash a few of the potato slices against the side of the pot and cook for a minute or two longer to release their starch. Reduce the heat to low and season assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added). Add the fish fillets, and reserved baconand cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes (the fish will finish cooking during this time).

4. Gently stir in the cream and taste for salt and pepper. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.

serves 8 as a main course.

english muffins are made on a griddle

I used half whole wheat flour with this recipe:
English Muffins
1 2/3 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 package active dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 large egg
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
5 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. salt
Cornmeal or bread crumbs
1. Heat the milk and melt the butter in it. Cool.
2. Combine the yeast, water, and sugar. Allow to proof for a few minutes.
3. Combine the cooled milk mixture with the yeast mixture in large bowl. Add the egg, salt, and vinegar, along with half the flour and mix at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Add in remaining flour and mix well. The mixture will be sticky. Cover and allow to rise in draft-free area for 1 hour.
4. Pour cornmeal or bread crumbs into a bowl. Grease two baking sheets. Take approximately 1/2 cup of dough into your hand and form a ball. Flatten and place in cornmeal, turning once. Place muffin on the greased cookie sheet and flatten to a 3-inch circle. Allow muffins to rise for about 8 minutes.
5. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat. Place the muffins on the griddle and cook 7 minutes on each side. Allow to cool completely.

The english muffins turned out a bit less nook and crannies full, but they were good with the chowder and with butter and jam. I think I'll make wider, thinner ones next time.

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