Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Well, after all my praise about the fall season approaching, the weather that I so love has turned on me. Actually I think it's more of the fact that the weather can't make up its mind about what season it wants to be. A week ago it was a perfect 67 degrees and sunny, 88 and sticky a few days later, then a trip to Wisconsin over the weekend brought a 36 degree overnight low. My sinuses have given up trying to adjust and are now revolting. I have a mutiny going on in my face, and it's not even winter yet.
Feeling like this makes it hard to get motivated to cook anything for dinner, I had trouble bringing myself to make a sandwich last night. Thank god for my productive weekend two weeks ago in which I spent the morning making a huge pot of soup, and stored most of it in the freezer for just such an occasion.
This corn and potato chowder is a perfect soup for a sicky like me. It is comforting, hearty, and creamy, but not super thick, so it doesn't leave you feeling like a big lump if you accidentally eat two giant bowlfuls. If you use corn off the ears like I did, be forewarned that it is a bit of work, cutting the kernels off and milking the cobs takes some time and patience.
In my opinion, it would have been very much worth it had the corn been better quality, unfortunately, it wasn't the greatest. I would make this again before next year's sweet corn season comes around, but will probably take the easy route and go with frozen. If you do use frozen corn, I would recommend taking about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of the corn and puree it in a food processor before adding it to the soup, this will simulate the corn pulp that you would have extracted from the cobs.
Corn and Potato Chowder
recipe adapted from Foy Update
10 ears sweet corn
1 large vidalia onion, diced
1 1/2 lbs baby red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6 oz pancetta, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons minced thyme
1 bay leaf
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the corn first. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs and place in a bowl. Be sure not to cut too close to the cob, you want just the soft crisp nuggets of corn. Then you want to "milk" the corn cobs. This basically means you want to squeeze all the pulp and juice out of the cob, this will help make the soup nice and creamy. I used my microplane to gently grate the cobs of corn over a bowl. After I went over the entire cob with the microplane, I quickly ran the back of my knife down each cob to squish out the rest of the juice. This can get a bit messy, so use a large bowl and wear an apron.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until most of the fat has rendered off and it is starting to get crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pancetta and set aside. Reduce heat to low and add the onions and butter. Cover and cook until onions have softened, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Make a roux by sprinkling the flour over the onions and whisk for a minute or two until the flour has heated and is combined with the butter and onions. Slowly whisk in the stock and bring to a simmer.
Add the potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, corn pulp/juice, whole milk, and the cooked pancetta. Bring back to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are nice and tender. Add the corn, heavy cream and sugar, bring to a simmer again, and cook until corn kernels are tender but still crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Take out the bay leaf and serve topped with the chopped parsley and even some grated parmigiano reggiano.
The winter is coming, along with the colds, flu's, and sinus infections that come with it. I suggest you make this soup right now so you are armed and ready to battle it out.