John F. Kennedy's Favorite Fish Chowder Featured Salt Pork And Haddock

Former President John F. Kennedy sitting at the dinner table
Former President John F. Kennedy sitting at the dinner table - Three Lions/Getty Images

Presidential gastronomic fixations have enjoyed a history of their own. FDR ate sweetbreads six days a week (although, not necessarily by choice) and JFK's successor LBJ was a notoriously picky eater. It doesn't get a whole lot more New England than a bowl of fish chowder, and despite his reputation as a fashionable metropolitan figurehead, President John F. Kennedy was all about it.

Foodies today have the recipe thanks to the fan letter of one young girl called Lynn Jennings, who wrote the then-president in March 1961 asking about what he liked to eat. As the story goes, Kennedy responded to her letter at the behest of his secretary, typed out the recipe for his favorite New England fish chowder, and sent it to Jennings. Luckily, Kennedy's recipe was archived by the Presidential Library, so foodies today can get a taste of the hearty, silky seafood chowder that captured the president's taste buds and heart.

The main ingredient is meaty haddock, which is showcased by diced salt pork and bulked up with potatoes, celery, and onions. This chowder keeps it minimal on the seasonings -- salt, pepper, and a single crumbled bay leaf -- and it's all married in a simple creamy broth of milk and butter. The flavor in the broth comes from simmering the haddock in water before deboning, draining, and reserving the water. For an even punchier flavor, the vegetables get sauteed in the fat remnants from the salt pork.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

Straightforward, Warming, And Classic For JFK

chowder in bowl with haddock and crackers
chowder in bowl with haddock and crackers - Fudio/Getty Images

This one-pot fish chowder is a sentimental nod to his New England roots. JFK was born in Brookline, Massachusetts and later attended Harvard in Boston. Boston foodies have been digging seafood chowder since at least 1751 when the first known chowder recipe was published in the Boston Evening Post (like JFK's, it combined both fish and salt pork). Per the lore, only those closest to the president were served this seafood chowder when invited over to the White House for a meal.

Kennedy's passion for this rustic New England fish chowder is even more meaningful considering he was a famously minimal eater. According to the authority at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, he often needed to be reminded that it was dinnertime. The minimal, humble ingredients lineup is wicked economical and makes a great excuse to visit your local fishmonger. To complete the meal, pair with a fresh Caesar salad (don't forget the anchovy dressing) and warm corn muffins -- another of JFK's reported favorites.

In addition to belonging to the Funky Fish Chowder Fan Club (Anthony Bourdain was a member, too), the former president was known to regularly eat a different soup for lunch every day. Per the Library, JFK's go-to breakfast and dinner foods were equally as warming and classic. He often started his day with poached eggs on toast, bacon, and a glass of orange juice, and ended the day with a hearty meat-and-potatoes dish, often lamb chops or steak.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.