Sunday Night Soups, where each week Serious Eats offers a soup appropriate to the week’s Sunday Night Football game on NBC. This week's recipe appears a little early, to give you time to round up a fresh, whole fish.
This Sunday night’s Chargers-Patriots tilt is naturally soupier than many of this season’s matchups. (Stay tuned for horsemeat soups when the Colts appear.) San Diego and New England are both regions with strong culinary traditions, though San Diego’s may have more to do with its proximity to the ocean and to Mexico than with the natural culinary genius of its residents.
Given the Charger lightning bolt helmet logo, and New England’s strong chowder tradition, a chowder of electric eels would seem to be the call here. Alternatively, considering the bad blood between these teams, a soup of live fighting fish in a room-temperature court-bouillon would be another appropriate choice. However, here at Serious Eats, we’re all about local and sustainable, so consider a chowder of your local catch instead. For inspiration, we’ll reach back to the championship year of 1918, and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, available free on the web.
Do note that this recipe calls for whole fish, so get your knives sharp, and call your fishmonger ahead of time. If you are apprehensive about how to handle a whole fish, this video, illicitly obtained by the New England Patriots, may help.
Fannie Farmer’s 1918 Fish Chowder (Gurgling Cod Belichick TV Eye Remix)
- 4 lb whole cod or haddock (or whatever mild white fish is fresh and local)
- 1 1/2-inch cube fat salt pork
- 4 cups of potatoes cut in ¾” cubes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups milk
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 8 Common crackers*
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 dried chipotle peppers
Put head, tail, and backbone, broken in pieces, in stew pan; add two cups cold water and bring slowly to boil; cook 20 minutes. Drain and reserve stock.
Cut salt pork in small pieces and try out, add onion, and fry 5 minutes; strain fat into stewpan.
Parboil potatoes 5 minutes in boiling water to cover; drain and add potatoes to fat; then add 2 cups boiling water and cook 5 minutes.
Add liquor drained from bones, then add the fish; cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add milk, salt, pepper, butter, and crackers split and soaked in enough cold milk to moisten, otherwise they will be soft on the outside but dry on the inside.
Using a Microplane or similar grater, grate dried chipotle atop the individual bowls of chowder. Serve immediately.
* Common crackers, is not, in fact, a reference to Tennessee Titans fans, but a kind of oversized oyster cracker. Vermont Common Crackers are available from the Vermont Country Store, but regular oyster crackers will do. You may wish to omit the step of pre-soaking the crackers and serve them as a garnish instead.