Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dinner Chowder: A Family Culinary Masterpiece

Denzer's Maryland Style Dinner Chowder could be the best recipe ever handed down in my family. Above left is a mock-up of what a can was to have looked like under the Denzer's brand, which I started up in 1992 and sold in 2003. To the right is a bowl made up fresh. Although I never knew of its existence until long after her passing, my mother, the late Anne Vernon-Williams Slagle, appears to have been the source. I don't know where or how she came up with it.

Penned in her handwriting and folded, the recipe fell out of a looseleaf notebook bearing the original pages of an unpublished cookbook that her father and my grandfather, Frederick Royale Vernon-Williams, completed in 1933. Most of the recipes he obtained individually from old Maryland and Virginia families. Over the coming year, I'll be preparing some of them and posting those that make the grade. This one sure did.

Although the ingredient mix unfortunately did not lend itself well to the canning process, you have my assessment of what it's like made fresh.


2 cups raw potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 cup minced onion
1/2 cup celery, coarsely diced
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon English mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ketchup
2 cups milk
1/2 pound processed sharp cheese, grated
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 cup canned tomatoes
4 tablespoons flour

Combine potatoes, onion, celery, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the boiling water in a deep kettle. Cover and simmer until tender. Melt butter in double boiler, add flour and stir until smooth, while adding the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup, and milk. Cook until thick, then add cheese, and continue stirring until melted. Add this to the potato mixture, along with the parsley and tomatoes. Heat thoroughly and serve.