By: Chef Ron Dombroski
Let’s talk fish. And boil. Fish Boil! With fall so close, I can taste it (plus four days ago an old oak behind our house sprouted red and orange . . . optimist?). I have been dreaming of hitting a Fish Boil on a nice crisp day. My wife has never been to a Fish Boil (or Door County for that matter), so we can kill two birds with one stone. “What is a fish boil?” I can hear you ask. Fortunately, this is an easy answer. The fish boil is primarily a Wisconsin tradition, most specifically the coastal Upper Great Lakes (Michigan and Superior) where there are strong Scandinavian populations. The most popular are found in, you guessed it, Door County. There are many places that offer a fish boil and I will talk about my two favorites. The first would have to be at The White Gull Inn in Fish Creek. Lake Michigan Whitefish, new potatoes, slaw, homemade breads and Door County cherry pie! Half of the experience is the ambiance, which is second to none here. It feels like you have stepped back in time; every room is uniquely adorned in antiques, floral wallpapers and period pieces. If taking the family, I would highly recommend Rowleys Bay Resort/Restaurant in Ellison Bay. They also have a great Fish Boil, which is part of an ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET! Plus they have a marvelous bakery onsite. What makes this place stand out is the view, as they are right on the water. You can count on a fantastic meal, excellent fish and great photo ops at either of these establishments . . . And cherry pie . . . Door County Cherry Pie.
There are too many Fish Boils to list in this little article but you can check out doorcounty.com or dcmm.org (Door County Maritime Museum) for info on pretty much everything from lodging, lighthouses, and of course, Fish Boils. If you are planning on going up for dinner or for a weekend, reservations are highly recommended. As a matter of fact, I booked our October weekend a month ago and feel fortunate that they had any rooms left as the “So Delicious, So Door County” festival is going on now through October. Cherries, apples and pumpkins…Oh My! Did I mention the pie?
Door County Cherry Pie
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
½# Butter (Cold- cut into cubes)
OR Butter Flavored Crisco
1 Tablespoon Sugar
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Cup Cold Water
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon together.
Add the butter and gently “cut” the flour and butter together with your hands. The heat from your hands will gently melt the butter. Do this until you have a bowl of pea-sized clumps. Make a well in the center of the butter/flour mixture and add your cold water. Knead gently until combined (don’t overmix or you’ll have a tough crust). Set aside.
4 Cups Montmorency Cherries
¾ Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
Place the cherries plus whatever juice or water they are packed in, in a non-metallic pan. Cook on medium until simmering. Add sugar and cornstarch and stir until thick and bubbly, about
5 to 7 minutes.
Divide your dough into two sheets
(about 1/8 inch thick). Place one in your pie tin (preferably 9”). Fill with cherry filling and cover with the other piece of dough. Crimp and trim edges, sprinkle with sugar and poke a hole in the center to allow steam to escape. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Reduce to 325 and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.