Melinda Fager and her husband, Jeff (chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 Minutes), have been coming to Chappquiddick since their honeymoon 30 years ago. When they arrive, they live off what he catches (he is a very successful fisherman) and what they can either forage or buy at local farms.
Learn more about the Fagers and this combination photo book and cookbook this Sunday, July 7, from 4 to 6 pm at a book signing and party for Ms. Fager’s book, “Living Off the Sea: On the Island of Chappaquiddick” at Slip Away Farm on Chappaquiddick.
The following are a few recipes excerpted from the book.
For years we’d been buying delicious smoked bluefish. Then one day my husband said, “We bring in so much bluefish, why aren’t we making this ourselves?” I gave Jeff a Green Egg cooker, and he took cooking on the grill to a whole new level. The Green Egg is a clay pot that can heat up to 650 degrees, and it will hold temperatures for hours. It is extremely versatile for grilling, smoking, and roasting.
What you need:
2 cups hickory chips, soaked in water for 2 hours
Cut your bluefish into 4- or 5-inch fillets and place them in a large pan. Cover with water and generously pour a few tablespoons of sea salt over all of them. Set aside for 2 hours.
During this time, soak your hickory chips.
Set your charcoal grill and wait half an hour until the coals are red. Close the top and close down the air vents and let temperature reach 350 degrees.
Drain water from the wood chips and sprinkle them over the hot coals. Place fillets on the grill, skin-side down.
Close the cover to the grill and let temperature reach 250–300 degrees.
Cook for 1½; to 2 hours.
Remove fillets, cool, and store in a glass container in the refrigerator.
Squeeze fresh lemon over each when serving.
The chowder tastes best on a foggy day when there’s a dampness in the air and a fire in the woodstove. And it’s even better on the second day when all the flavors have had more time to cure.
What you need:
4–5 strips of smoked bacon
1 chopped Vidalia onion
½; cup flour
Fish stock (see page 113)
3–4 diced small skin-on red and
white potatoes, or 6–8 fingerlings
6 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
1 chicken lobster
2 cups bluefish and bass chunks
1 pint whole milk or half-and-half
1 pint high-quality light cream
Green Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large metal pot, cook the smoked bacon and onion. Remove the bacon after onions are translucent, leaving the bacon fat and onions.
Make a roux of ½; cup flour mixed with cold water, and add to the bacon fat. Stir as you slowly heat the mixture.
Add 5–6 large ladles of fresh fish stock and the potatoes. Add cherrystone clams and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes or so, until the clams open and the potatoes are tender. Remove the shells once they have opened (but leaving behind the clam meat).
Meanwhile, steam a chicken lobster (which is just a small lobster) in a separate pan in a very small amount of water for approximately 10 minutes, depending on the size. Shell the meat and chop up the amount you want to add. Lobster meat is very rich. With a small lobster I add both claws and the whole tail. If it’s a bigger lobster I may only add the claws.
Add the chunks of fish to the mixture and cook for 2 minutes.
Add whole milk or half-and-half to the mixture. Add Tabasco sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you’re not eating the chowder right away, store it in the refrigerator. Right before serving, add another pint of best-quality light cream and slowly heat the chowder to a simmer for half an hour, being careful not to boil. Serve with fresh pepper and sea salt.
Wasque Wild Blueberry Pie
What you need:
3–4 cups wild blueberries
2 cups flour, plus a little more for filling
¼ to ½; cup sugar
¾ cup Crisco
2 tablespoons good-quality butter,
plus more for interior of pie
1 teaspoon sea salt
5–6 tablespoons ice water
Put blueberries in a large bowl and use just enough flour to coat them. Add sugar and pinch of sea salt. Toss gently and let sit.
Mix flour, Crisco, butter, and sea salt with a pastry blender until the mixture has pea-sized lumps.
Add ice water a few tablespoons at a time. (I use a three-pronged kitchen fork to mix in the water until it feels like it’s just moist enough to form into a ball.)
Divide the ball into two balls and flatten them into 1-inch-thick discs. Wrap each in wax paper and refrigerate for an hour or so.
Roll out the dough on a floured board, creating both top and bottom of the pie. Place bottom layer in pie plate.
Add blueberry mixture and squeeze ½; lemon over the berries. Add a few dollops of butter on top of the berries.
Position the top layer of dough and pinch the edges to seal the top and bottom doughs. Pat milk or cream on the top. Add a sprinkling of sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
Let cool for 10–15 minutes before you slice so that the filling gels a little.
What you need:
12 medium-sized quahogs
2 or 3 links Andouille sausage
2 cups each of celery, onion, and
fresh green peppers, chopped
Loaf ciabatta bread
Steam the clams until they just begin to open. Pry open the shells over a bowl so that you save the clam juice, and save the shells.
Scoop out the clams, cut them up with a pair of kitchen scissors, and set aside.
Chop up the sausage and sauté lightly. Add the vegetables to the sausage and simmer until onions are translucent. Add clams to the pan.
Pull and shred pieces of bread from a ciabatta loaf, without the crust.
Add the bread to the bowl of clam juice and let it soak. “Knead” the bread until all the juice is absorbed.
Add the bread to the pan of sausage and vegetables, along with some chopped parsley, sea salt, and pepper. Mix all together.
Spoon mixture into empty shells and keep covered in the refrigerator until 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat them.
Add a little melted butter to the top of each.
Place the shells on a cookie sheet and roast at 350 degrees for 5–10 minutes, depending on the size clam you’ve used.
Just before serving, turn the oven to broil, and brown the stuffed clams for 2–3 minutes.
Squeeze some lemon on each and serve.