GMG Q&A- Melissa Smith Abbott Part VI

Who has the best Chowder in town?

I really don’t like anyone’s Chowder all that much. I don’t think people know how to make it anymore. They don’t put in the fish broth or clam broth which is what makes it really tasty. Here is my grandmother, Melissa C. Smith’s recipe for Fish Chowder from the Blacksmith Shop Cookbook 1947.

Blacksmith Shop Restaurant Fish Chowder 1947

4 lbs. haddock or cod
4 potatoes peeled cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 sliced onion
1 1/2 inch fat salt pork
1 T. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 T. butter
4 c. scalded milk


A New Englander orders her fish from the market with the fish skinned, but the head and tail left on. Remove fish from backbone and cut off head and tail. Cut fish into 2 inch pieces and set aside. Put head, tail, and backbone pieces into a stew pan, add 2 cups of cold water and bring slowly to boiling point; cook 5 minutes. Cut salt pork into small pieces and fry out, add onion and fry 5 minutes. Strain fat into a large pan, add potatoes to fat, then add 2 cups boiling water and cook 5 minutes. Add liquor drained from the bones, add fish, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add milk, salt, pepper, and butter. Melissa C Smithʼs comment: Although it is not traditional, I find most people prefer fish chowder which is slightly thickened. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 4 tablespoons flour, blending well. Gradually add 4 cups scalded milk. A little cream is good too. Serve with pilot crackers.

Note: source: Blacksmith Shop Specialties – How to Prepare and Serve Our Famous Dishes – Melissa C. Smith 1947

Now, I am  not sure if you are aware then you can not get Crown Pilot Crackers anymore. Nabisco decided not to make them. I did a bit of research on them. Crown Pilot was actually Nabisco’s oldest recipe, purchased when they bought out a small baker in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where the cracker was made as early as 1792 for seafarers.

I have a Pilot Cracker Recipe which I will share with you. It’s easy and they come out pretty good. So if you like things authentic, you really can’t get them in too many places commercially and chowder just isn’t chowder without Pilot Crackers.

Pilot Crackers

1 1/2 Cups milk
4 Cups flour
4 Tablespoons butter
3 Teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt

Mix the ingredients into a dough and roll out to a thickness of
about 1/2 inch. Cut into rectancles. Prick the squares with a fork
or knife. Place them on a lightly greased baking pan and bake
at 400 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Yield: 24 2 x 2-inch bars.

I prefer a Haddock Chowder but if I dug the clams myself, then I like Clam Chowder too.


  • Melissa, thanks for the recipe. I’ll have to try it. Sounds good.


  • Yeah, make some broth from the head and bones. Also if you do a lobster stew or bisque, make sure to do the same thing with the lobster shells and it comes out really yummy! I am shocked that no one has any Crown Pilot Cracker comments…… The fact that you can’t buy them now is a travesty. What are people eating with thier chowder anyway?


  • I hate to say it. I don’t have any type of crackers with chowder. Oh Oh.


  • Here I am a day late and a dollar short . . . but I have determined that I WILL recreate pilot crackers! I’m trying your recipe tonight, and will vary from there until I come up with the exact pilot crackers we all know and love. Watch for details! 🙂


  • I haven’t seen any recent postings…has anybody come up with a recipe for Crown Pilot crackers?


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