(Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, 1884)
4 or 5 pounds cod or haddock or bass
1 tablespoonful salt.
1/2 teaspoonful white pepper.
1 tablespoonful butter.
A 2-inch cube of fat salt pork.
1 quart milk.
2 small onions.
6 butter crackers.
When buying a fish for a chowder, have the head left on, but the skin removed; or if you have to depend upon yourself, remove the skin. Then begin at the tail and cut the fish from the bone on one side, keeping the knife as close as possible to the bone; remove the bone from the other side. Do not forget to take out the small bones near the head. Wipe the fish carefully with a damp cloth, cut it into pieces about two inches square, and put it away in a cool place. Break the bones and head, cover with cold water, and put them on to boil.
Pare and slice the potatoes one eighth of an inch thick, using enough to make the same quantity by measurement as you have of fish. Soak them in cold water half an hour, and parboil or scald in boiling water five minutes; then pour off the water.
Cut the pork into quarter-inch dice, and fry it in an omelet pan.
Cut the onions into thin slices and fry them in the pork fat, being careful that it does not burn. Pour the fat through a strainer into the kettle, leaving the pork scraps and onions in the strainer.
Put the sliced potatoes into the kettle; hold the strainer over the potatoes, and pour through it enough boiling water to cover them. This is easier than to fry in the kettle, and skim out the pork and onions, which to a novice would be running the risk of burning the fat, cleaning the kettle, and beginning again.
When the potatoes have boiled ten minutes, strain the water in which the bones were boiled, and pour it into the kettle. Add the salt and pepper, and when the chowder is boiling briskly, put in the fish, and set it back where it can simmer ten minutes.
Do not break the fish by stirring it. Add the butter and the hot milk.
Split the crackers, put them in the tureen, and pour the chowder over them. Do not soak the crackers in cold water. Butter crackers will soften easily in the hot chowder.
If you wish the broth thicker, stir in one cup of fine cracker crumbs, or one tablespoonful of flour cooked in one tablespoonful of butter. More milk and a little more seasoning may be added to this amount of fish and potato, if you wish to make a larger quantity.
When wanted richer, beat two eggs, mix them with the hot milk, and put in the tureen before turning in the chowder. If added while the chowder is in the hot kettle, the eggs will curdle.
Any firm white fish may be used for a chowder, but cod and haddock are best. Many use a cod's head with the haddock. The head is rich and gelatinous, and it should always be boiled with the bones, and the liquor added to the chowder. In this chowder you have nothing but what the most dainty person may relish. There are no bones, skin, or scraps of boiled pork. Fish, potatoes, and crackers are all distinct in the creamy liquid, instead of being a pasty mush, such as is often served. For a change, the crackers may be buttered and browned.
If a highly seasoned dish be desired, boil an onion, cut into thin slices, with the potatoes; add more pepper, and either cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, or curry powder. Omit the boiling water, and use only that in which the bones were boiled, when making a smaller quantity.