A little less than a year ago I published a post called Chicken Chowder which was both a remembrance of that uniquely Western New York summer-time food, Chicken Chowder, and an homage to my father who had recently died.
We have been surprised over the past year at how many visits that post has received. Along with the warm comments about my dad, there have been a number of requests for the recipe at the center of that post. While I did include an image of my dad’s original recipe from 1983, some people had trouble reading his handwriting and others had problems with its 13 gallon size. To solve both problems I’ve transcribed the original recipe below and also calculated a cut-down version sized for kitchen stove-top cooking. If you grew up with chowder from Adams, St. Johnsburg, Shawnee, Gratwick, Pendelton, Lewiston, or any of the other volunteer fire companies in Western New York this recipe may not exactly match your memories but I hope you’ll find it a worthy substitute.
Chicken Chowder as made by Harold H. Heuer on April 13, 1983
With explanatory comments by Curt Heuer
Western New York
(Bergholz) Fireman’s Field Day
Text in italic are comments by Curt Heuer, 2011.
For 13 gallon kettle (This recipe will yield around 11 gallons of chowder)
24# chicken, approx. (2 large, 5 small – all soup)
3# beef chuck bones w/ meat
2# beef neck bones w/ meat
5-6# beef knucklebones without meat
16# unpeeled potatoes (later amended to 20#)
4# fresh carrots plus 1 pt. canned carrots
3-1/2# onions, peeled and ground in blender
3 lg. bunches celery (16 C. chopped)
2 qt. tomatoes
Two 29 oz. cans of tomato puree
3 pts. Whole kernel corn
2 pts. (or cans) creamed corn
2 cans green peas (later increased to 3 cans)
1 small can lima beans (later omitted)
2 pts. Green beans, cut up small (later increased to 3 pts.)
Two 6-1/2oz. cans minced clams (later changed to one 46 oz. can clam juice/broth)
1/3 C. parsley
¼ C. salt (most of which is used when cooking meat)
1-1/2 T. black pepper (put in after meat has cooked)
Three 49-1/2 oz. cans Swanson Chicken Broth
Note: Ingredient quantities listed as qts. or pts. refer to home canned vegetables. Substitute approximate equivalent amount of commercially canned vegetables or equivalent approximate amount of fresh vegetables. You may not need as much added salt if using commercially canned vegetables.
This procedure is as noted by my dad on the original recipe. This recipe was cooked in a 13 gallon kettle fabricated from a stainless steel clothes washer inner drum (probably a Whirlpool) and heated by a wood fire. Refer to photos in original post for details.
Fire started at 7 a.m.
7 gallons of water
(Put in all meat)
Part of salt and pepper,
2 stalks of celery, whole
2 carrots, whole
2 onions, whole
Water boiling by 8:30. [Suggestion: cover kettle while boiling meat – to avoid loss of broth]
All meat out at 11:15
Corn, celery, onions, raw carrots, cabbage, beans and tomatoes in at 11:15
Meat (removed from bones and chopped) back in at 12:00 noon. Discard the original whole celery, carrots and onions.
Added potatoes and other ingredients at 12:30
It was soup at approx. 2:00 when we started canning. Dad noted that this version was “Real Good”.
Yield: canned 18 qt., froze 18 qt.
Bergholz Fireman’s Field Day Chowder
The following recipe is a cut-down version of the original recipe – adjusted for kitchen stove-top cooking – by Curt Heuer, 2011
Bergholz Fireman’s Field Day
Cut down to stove-top size
4# chicken (whole or cut into quarters)
1-1/2# beef bones w/ meat (chuck or neck)
1# beef knucklebones without meat
3# unpeeled potatoes, cut into ½ cubes
3/4# fresh carrots, chopped
3/4# onions, finely chopped
½ lg. bunches celery, chopped
3 oz. cabbage, chopped (about 1 C.)
One 14.5 oz. can tomatoes (stewed or diced)
One 10.75 oz can of tomato puree
1 C. Whole kernel corn, frozen
1/2 C. green peas. frozen
¼ C. lima beans, frozen
2/3 C Green beans, fresh or frozen, cut to 1” lengths
1 small bottle of clam broth/juice
1 Tbl parsley
½ Tbl. salt (most of which is used when cooking meat)
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2 C. canned Chicken Broth
Note: This recipe should yield around 2 gallons of chowder.
In a large kettle (preferably 12 -16 qt.)
1 gallon plus 2-1/2 C of water, add
Part of salt
½ stalk of celery
Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Remove meat, bones and vegetables (discard vegetables).
Add corn, remaining celery, onions & carrots, cabbage, beans and tomatoes; simmer 45 min.
Clean meat from bones (discard bones) and return meat to pot; simmer 30 min.
Add potatoes and remaining ingredients; simmer 60 min. or until potatoes have rounded edges.