Question: How do you create a new recipe and reduce it for the home cook?
Door County Chef Carol Skare of The Cookery in Fish Creek answers…
One of the dishes on the menu at The Cookery Restaurant & Wine Bar in Fish Creek, WI is a best seller and there isn’t a cherry in it! It’s Carol Skare’s Whitefish Chowder. Carol and her husband Dick think they’ve sold maybe a million gallons since they opened in 1977!
“We discovered whitefish was big in Door County so I created the chowder,” said Carol. “It was a customer favorite right away.”
Cherries, as well as apples are strongly represented on the Cookery’s menu. There is a kitchen garden behind the restaurant, they have strong connections with food producers in Door County, and all of Wisconsin.
This is not a low calorie chowder. She uses the famous Wisconsin Nueske bacon as one of her ingredients, along with whitefish from the Weborgs in Gills Rock.
I asked Carol if she creates her new recipes at home in her kitchen or in the restaurant kitchen.
“Oh,” she said, “always in the restaurant. I have a vision of what I want and I start pulling out the ingredients we have and test, test, test until I have what I want. Because we are making a large quantity for the restaurant, the ingredients and the measurements are specific to the quantity.
“When I want to reduce the measurements to 6-8 servings I have to almost start from scratch. You just can’t divide the recipe down, it won’t taste the same.”
Carol reduced the recipe years ago for her famous Whitefish Chowder and she agreed to share it here (see below).
I also asked Carol if she cooks the same way at home that she does in her restaurant.
“We cook a bit more simply at home, such as grilling something and a salad, or we have stir-fry a lot, depending on what’s in the refrigerator,” she responded.
“I like to make comfort food, often using my mother’s stuffing recipe–it just feels good to me.”
So remember, when you ask the chef of your favorite restaurant for the recipe to the dish you just fell in love with, it’s a little more complicated than simple division. The artistry in the commercial kitchen can’t be reduced to mere numbers so easily!
THE COOKERY’S WHITEFISH CHOWDER
Yield: makes 8 large servings
- 1 ½ LB whitefish fillets
- 2 C water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 C peeled diced potatoes
- ½ C diced carrots
- 1 C diced onion
- ½ C diced green bell pepper
- ½ C diced red bell pepper
- 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
- 2 tsp Angostura bitters
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
- 24 oz clam juice
- 4 C milk
- ½ C bacon fat
- ½ C flour
IN a large 6 quart kettle or stockpot, place water and whitefish. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fish from broth and set aside.
ADD salt, potatoes, carrots, onions and green and red peppers to fish broth. Boil, covered, about 10 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are tender/crisp.
ADD hot pepper sauce, bitters, black pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice, clam juice and milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer while making a roux.
IN a heavy medium saucepan, heat bacon drippings until completely melted and gradually whisk in flour. Let cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for one minute. Slowly whisk roux into simmering chowder.
GENTLY stir in reserved fish; blend with other ingredients. Serve hot.
~by Diane McNeil