Capt. Woody's Grouper Head Chowder

Often times, the highest quality of meat in a fish is discarded after it is filleted. In groupers, the head bares the fattiest and richest meat in the entire fish. When boiled down, the section of these fish makes an incredible broth base for fish chowder. Below is a delicious recipe, developed by a South Florida Captain, Woody Hughes, for this great dish with an overlooked delicacy.  


  • 5 pounds red potatoes 
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 2 cans condensed milk
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 cups Corn Starch
  • 1 grouper head
  • 2 pounds of grouper filets
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Peel & Dice potatoes into 1-inch cubes-dice onions into 1/2 cubes

Place potatoes and onion into 2-gallon pot with approximately 1 gallon of water or until potatoes are covered and boil until tender (add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper). Once potatoes are cooked turn heat down to a simmer, so that potatoes do not burn. 

At the same time use another large pot and cook/boil head for around 10 minutes or until skin is coming off and meat is cooked.  Remove head from pot and let cool. Remove all meat carefully, to avoid getting bones. Once all meat has been picked clean from head, add to boiled potatoes. Strain broth from fish head and add some to the potato broth.

Now add two cans of evaporated milk and one or two sticks of butter into your potatoes/chowder.  More butter the more cornstarch it will require to thicken. 

Take a large 16 oz drinking cup and put one cup of cornstarch mixed with cool water.  This is your thickening agent and may require a little more when finishing

Get the chowder mix now to a boiling point stirring along the way not to burn bottom and once it starts to boil mix in the corn starch at high temperature to thicken.  Boiling will activate cornstarch. Keep stirring slowly while adding cornstarch until desired thickness.

As soon as it is thickened take off heat immediately not burn bottom and your done.

Chef’s Note:

If you do not want to cook head, just add 1 inch cubed fish into potatoes just after potatoes are cooked.  Any filleted fish will work, but grouper is preferred.  If you do not add water from head you will need to add a little more water, check height in pot after adding evaporated milk.  Prior to adding corn starch, pot should around 3/4 full. 

Salt and Pepper to Taste - Serve with chowder crackers or saltines / Tabasco

Serves 15 to 20 bowls of chowder perfect for football games or cold winter days

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