When I was 8-9, the old timer who taught me how to lobster had a big steel Maxwell House coffee can with baling wire handles. You remember those old giant cans- seems like they held about a gallon of coffee. Well, he would sometimes bring along some bits and pieces of food in a bag, and early in the morning he'd mix up a batch of the base stock for chowder, and whatever went in it for meat went in it for meat. Usually it was Codfish and a short lobster that got crunched or had its' shell damaged, and was judged as not going to survive, so into the pot he went. This was shelled and cut up, along with the cod and maybe a couple of clams from the basket of clams the old timer hung off the back of the dock.
The old timer dug clams when low tide coincided with sunrise or morning twilight before the game warden woke up. These got stored in a special hidden basket built inconspicuously into the dock itself, accessed by moving a loose plank. When we left the dock in the morning, the can sometimes came out, along with a small jug of milk, and everything went in the can. We would then lift up the engine hatch, and the can would get hung off the exhaust manifold of the engine.
By noon or so, we had a hot lunch of short lobster chowder. Being intently curious and the old timer having saintly patience when it came to answering a million how-to questions about fishing each day, I learned how to cook this meal- one of the tastiest things you'll ever eat, and a real taste of rural New England.
After I grew up and the old timer gave up fishing, he sold the boat to my high school English teacher, who had a smaller boat and was looking to upgrade. I came along as part of the sale. Billy Dee taught me more about fishing legally, and the rights and wrongs of fishing commercially, and I never again saw or saw fit myself to eat or keep a short lobster. In my yoot, I was innocent, and it was a different time, of course, when living off the sea was still a thing for a New Englander to do.
Anyhow, as I'm barbecuing some leftover freezer meats today, before they get freezer burnt and go bad, I have time, and I was thinking about my fishing days, so here's the recipe. You can make it on a stove, too, of course, but it ain't gonna be the same. Cook time and temp will vary with your patience. If possible, I'd recommend around the temperature of the air around the exhaust manifold of a Detroit 453 with keel coolers and a dry stack exhaust.
DETROIT DIESEL FISH CHOWDER
(Serves 6, or 2 fishermen)
Salt Pork (cut fine, 1-4oz.)
3 tbsp. butter
2 medium onions, cubed.
Savory and/or Thyme (or both) 1 tsp.
2 lbs potatoes, cubed fine.
3-4 bay leaves
5 cups chicken broth
2-3 lbs cod, lobster, or both, thick cubes.
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2-2 cups of milk or heavy cream
To cook- throw everything in a coffee can, and hang it off the manifold, let cook for 4-5 hours. Or, cook it in a stock pot.
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