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The 20 Most New Englandy Dishes

The 20 Most New Englandy Dishes
13 votes, 3.54 avg. rating (71% score)

boston baked beansImogene Woolcott was Yankee‘s first food editor and the first mass-media authority on New England cooking. Consider her the Martha Stewart of her day: She anchored daily radio broadcasts over the Yankee Network for First National Stores, wrote her monthly Yankee column, and gave lectures on home economics to women’s groups around the region. If she were alive today, I’m sure she’d have a cooking show on PBS and a blog to go with it.imogene

Her 1939 book, The Yankee Cook Book (Amereon Ltd.), a compilation of 377  recipes collected from the Yankee archives and from cooks around the six states, was in print for decades and is still a primary source for anyone wanting to learn about our regional foodways. That same year, in a Yankee article about the book, she praised its contents as a celebration of “the finest plain cooking in the world” listed the 20 “most typical” New England dishes.

She writes, “I am conscious of the dangers attendant on such a selection. But I am basing the popularity of these dishes on the number of recipes sent in as a result of my daily radio broadcasts over the Yankee Network in Boston. For example, I received 377 recipes for baked Indian pudding—more than for any other one dish. So, naturally, it heads the list.”

And here it is:

  1. Baked Indian pudding
  2. Boston baked beans
  3. Boston brown bread
  4. Parker House rolls
  5. Clam chowder
  6. Johnnycake
  7. Codfish balls
  8. Yankee pot roast
  9. New England salt fish dinner (aka Cape Cod Turkey)
  10. Split-pea soup
  11. Red flannel hash
  12. Fish chowder
  13. Apple pandowdy
  14. Green tomato pickle
  15. Vermont turkey
  16. Cranberry sauce
  17. Pumpkin pie
  18. Coleslaw
  19. Scalloped oysters
  20. Broiled lobster

So what do you think, readers? Does her list stand the test of time? I can think of many dishes I’d like to add, including (Grape-nut pudding, common crackers, quahog fritters, apple pie with cheddar...). Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Amy Traverso


Amy Traverso


Senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso oversees Yankee's Food and Home & Garden departments and contributes articles to the magazine. Amy book, The Apple Lover's Cookbook (W.W. Norton), won an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook award for the category American. Follow !

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25 Responses to The 20 Most New Englandy Dishes

  1. Kasey Bielecki April 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    I’m pretty excited about this list. It makes sense to me. I am also super excited about the “Yankee Cookbook” I just picked up an original 1939 copy for 50 cents at a book sale in Gainesville, Florida. It was an amazing find :-)

  2. Roz April 22, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Now living in Atlanta after a whole lifetime (60 yrs) in New England and almost all on the list are my favorites .. Yes we could probably add a few more…. And that is why I try to make an annual trip North to munch out on as much of the New England goodies as I can…. And visit as many beaches as I can while visiting friends and relatives.
    I do get Yankee…. as a gift from my nephew and I do not throw them away…. I even have an oldie I came across from July/Aug 2004.
    I remember digging up Quahaugs at low tide so Mom could make Chowda and Stuffies…
    Looking forward to the cookbook…. it will make great gifts for the holiday !!!!

  3. Karl Wolf April 22, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    I know growing up every Saturday night we had baked beans and hot dogs….but..lobster and clams are right up there with me in regard to a typical NE dinner…however… :-) Indian Pudding at Durgan Park can’t be beat nor strawberry shortcake there….and mother’s rhubarb pie…too hard to decide and I am salivating just thinking of choices….

  4. Patricia Bondor April 22, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    MOST typical? Not by a long shot! Where is Shepherd’s Pie? Where are Whoopie Pies? And lobster is much more commonly boiled than broiled. You got a collection of specialized recipes, but they are not “typical” New England fare. What about deep fried haddock? To be sure, you included some – baked beans, brown bread, Indian pudding, clam chowder, Johnnycake, red flannel hash (what about New England boiled dinner – the precursor to that hash?), Apple pandowdy…you got several, so I’ll give you a “C” for not too bad. BTW, why isn’t Moxie anywhere – or does it have to be a recipe? Moxie float…

    • Amy Traverso April 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback, Patricia! Remember that this list was generated in 1939. There are many dishes that I would add to it if I were making my own list today. But I think it’s interesting to see how our ideas about New England cooking—and what defines it—have evolved since then.

    • Anne Hebert April 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      I could not agree more, Patricia! I have never heard of baked beans being boiled first. You need about 6 to 8 hours of baking in a 300 oven to make a good baked bean. My family uses either pea beans or kidney beans, depending on what is on hand. Also the clam chowder recipe should be soft shell clams, not the hard cherry stones.

      There is a Vermont Turkey, but it only shows how to dry cure. Where is the directions on how to make the turkey with the fixin’s. What about the stuffing?

      I have never had cole slaw the way it is described here. What about the red cabbage and the carrots? Sour cream dressing, um no! Little Mayo, red wine vinegar and a bit of sugar…..yum!

      Where is the old fashioned clam bake?

      The fish chowder without haddock or cod? Pollock, come on, any fisherman and/or lobsterman round these parts knows we used to use it as bait fish. Good lord. I always likes Yankee Magazine and Imogene has long been one of my faves, I have lots of her recipes, but she would never have approved of half of these. I have her recipe for baking beans in a wood stove in the side chimney, now those are some tasty beans!

      • Nancy May 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

        I grew up in RI, and we most often used Quahogs steamed and ground to make chowder. OF course , my dad was a shell fisher for many years and the good stuff went to market, Quahogs were cheap and easy and tasty option.

    • Kit April 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

      Patricia, I thought I was missing New England when I read the 1939 list – but you had to go and mention MOXIE?!?

      #Western Mass

  5. Janet Wilton April 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    I would vote for #9. I am hoping it is referring to “Salt Codfish Gravy”. My father was born and raised in Maine and we’d have this delicious dish often for breakfast with boiled potatoes! Talk about a meal to stick to your ribs! I don’t know a single soul who knows what this dish is. They don’t know what they’re missing!

    • Alyssa November 7, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

      I’ve heard of it, and I love it! My grandmother used to use quite a few Depression-era recipes in her everyday cooking, and at least half of those included putting meat or fish in milk gravy–including hot dogs. Codfish (salted or unsalted) in milk gravy over mashed potatoes was always my favorite! Which reminds me that I haven’t had it for awhile…I should make it.

      And don’t worry, I get the exact same blank stares and questioning looks when I mention salmon loaf, another weeknight dinner staple at my house growing up.

  6. Margery Peterson April 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    Lobster, lobster, lobster!!!

  7. Anthony Burelle April 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    yeah I didn’t see the clam fritters, or fried clams

  8. Cathy Borges April 22, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Everything on this list I can make for myself now that I live in Tenn. But I sure can’t make Fried Clams here, if you leave New England all you can get are those nasty clam strips.

    • leo g.king April 17, 2015 at 11:36 am #

      @kathy borges,here in west virginia you can’t even get the strips.i used to fill up on fishermans platter at bob’s clam hut in kittery,maine on old rte 1,they could not be beat.

  9. Sheila April 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Need to add Boiled Dinner and Clam pie.

  10. cheryl April 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    clam chowder for one, american chop suey and lobster roll

  11. Jaimefaye April 23, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Delicious list but seems a little more typical for the coastal communities—-growing up in the landlocked Northeast Kingdom of Vermont the Pot roast–hash–chicken pot pie–etc. were more typical dinners…

    • Amy Traverso April 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Good point! Thanks for weighing in….

  12. Margaret Breeden April 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Boiled dinner, fried clams and ginger bread are staples missing from your list.

  13. Susan Brooks May 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Your Cape Cod Turkey sounds a lot like my mothers Cream Fin and Haddie. The salted Cod was simmered in the white sauce and that was served over mashed potatoes. A very common Friday supper. Peas were often served on the side.

    • Susan May 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      I was curious about your mother’s recipe. Tried looking it up in Google. Found a slight spelling variation. Creamed Finnan Haddie. Sounds just as delicious!

  14. Sam May 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    What about clam cakes (RI), maple walnut ice cream, and steamers?

  15. Cheryl May 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    Wonderful, traditional, always found on our tables for over 60yrs; have to add New England Boiled dinner, Corn Chowda, and Salmon Pea Wiggle… :)

  16. john June 4, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    blueberry slump!

  17. June September 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    My English born grandmother and native born mother lived in Maine until grandfather died. They moved to Massachusetts, but brought Maine with them in the form of food in addition to the above mentioned dishes. For instance, baked bean sandwiches, Whoopie Pies, creamed salmon with peas over mashed potatoes, pickled beets, gingerbread, New England boiled dinner, grapenut custard, bread pudding, turnip and carrots mashed together, boiled lobstah, deep dish apple pie and the best turkey stuffing ever!

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