A little tweak updates the classic New England creamed cod

By Jim Bailey
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od has been a New England staple since time immemorial, having been enjoyed by native Americans and expounded upon by the influx of Europeans. Creamed cod is an age-old recipe that deserves to be just subtly Yanked. I think you will find this recipe a perfect example of leaving well enough alone on one hand, yet minimally “tweaked” for today’s palate. Let me know what you think.

Scallopped cod

Creamed cod gets a tweak for this updated dish.


6 slices pumpernickel or rye bread
1 1/2 pound cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups milk, divided
1 bay leaf
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup flour
6 ounces mild white cheddar cheese, shredded or diced
2 pounds potatoes, cooked, cooled and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 ounces smoked ham, diced
1 cup frozen peas and/or carrots
Butter-flavored cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F. Put bread on a baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, or until dried; remove to cool. Meanwhile, place cod in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups milk and bay leaf so that fish is covered. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer 4 to 5 minutes, or until fish flakes. Remove from heat, then remove fish with a slotted spoon onto a plate and set aside.

Remove bay leaf from pan of milk and add remainder of milk along with nutmeg, salt and pepper, whisking well. Return to heat and bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk 3/4 cups of the hot milk with the flour; adding back into saucepan.

When starting to boil, add cheese, whisking well. Remove from heat and continue whisking until cheese has completely melted; set aside.

Add cooked potatoes to an 11 x 7-inch baking pan. Add the ham over the top along with vegetables. Top with cooked cod and pour milk/cheese mixture over the top evenly. Crush dried bread in a bowl, spraying with cooking spray to wet well. Evenly top “casserole” with bread crumbs and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread cubes are well browned and the dish is bubbling.

Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania has released Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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