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50 Chowders Hardcover – August 22, 2000
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New England clam, Manhattan red, and corn--that's the chowder story, right? Wrong. In 50 Chowders, award-winning chef Jasper White explores a surprisingly wide range of these savory one-pot meals while also offering chowder history and folklore, in-depth ingredient profiles, cooking tips, and technique instruction. (Did you know that chowder is best "cured" for one hour to three days after it's made to allow flavors to meld?) Probably the last word on the subject, the book delivers the kind of comprehensive culinary profile that enlightens even seasoned cooks. Everyone will find its recipes tempting and approachable. Beginning with a history of chowder--White sets its birth in the 18th century, citing among its possible "inventors" Native Americans, French or English fishermen, or settlers in Canada and Massachusetts--the book then explores typical chowder ingredients such as the all-important salt pork. Recipes follow for classic seafood chowders and for "farmhouse" brews such as Spring-Dug Parsnip, Shaker Fresh Cranberry Bean, and Nantucket Veal. Other chowder newcomers include Digby Bay Scallop Chowder with Cabbage and Bacon, Lightly Curried Mussel Chowder, and Bermuda Fish Chowder, which is served, deliciously, with a pitcher of rum. White also provides a chapter on chowder companions such as common crackers and includes recipes for Cheddar Cheese Biscuits and Skillet Corn Bread, among other go-withs. With eight pages of color photos and numerous technique illustrations, the book gives a humble but essential American dish its full due at last. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
"In order to understand chowder, you must move away from the image of the pasty-white clam chowder restaurants serve in a small cup with a bag of crackers." For White, the popular chef of New England cuisine (Lobster at Home, etc.), chowder is not a soup; it's a hearty dish containing big chunks of fish, potatoes and vegetables in a lake of steaming broth. After perusing this competent and attractive book, many readers will be converted to his view. White begins with a complete history of chowder and a host of helpful tips on selecting the basic ingredients: fish, shellfish, salt pork and bacon, potatoes, onions, cream, thyme, corn, etc. His instructions for filleting fish are excellent, and the rundown of various types of fish used in chowderAcomplete with illustrationsAbeats out similar sections in many specialized fish cookbooks. (Another chapter contains instructions for digging up your own clams.) Still, the beauty of chowder lies in its humble character and simplicity, and White respects that too much to ruin chowder by making it fussy. He provides excellent version of such classics as Corn Chowder, New England Fish Chowder and Manhattan Red Claw Chowder. The problem is that because the dish's basic ingredients are so common, many of the recipes resemble one another: only a devotee could distinguish the flavors of New England Clam (Quahog) Chowder, Steamer Clam Chowder and Razor Clam Chowder. And the closest thing to quirky is a Bermuda Fish Chowder with Crab, made with cloves and rum. Still, White convincingly showcases the ease with which these tasty, filling meals can be prepared, and his careful explanations go a long way toward resurrecting chowder's place in fine New England cuisine. Eight pages of color photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
There's a brilliant recipe for a white chowder with chunks of salmon and I used baby carrots instead of potatoes! So pretty! I serve it as a dinner entree with a crispy salad with a sharp vinaigrette and sourdough bread. You just can't beat this cookbook. Jasper White has several seafood restaurants in Boston and they're all wonderful. Even for someone who grew up on home-made fish chowder.
If you're tempted to make a "skinny" version by omitting the butter, bacon, heavy cream or evaporated milk, DON'T. Chowders are comfort food at its best. Run an extra mile tomorrow, but make your chowder rich and satisfying. It'll take 20 minutes to cook, but it's even better if you let it rest overnight in the refrigerator. You know how home made chili is always better the next day? Like that.
This is a book that will be enjoyed by both experienced and novice cooks, as the recipes are well written and please the palate.
The only caveat is to those with dietary restrictions or those (like me) who do not like higher fat foods. I don't like recipes that use lots of heavy cream, but I have found that the making the usual substitutions (milk plus a little flour) gives me the same wonderful chowders but without the extra fat calories.