Tuesday, June 26, 2007
CORN CHOWDER WITH BACON, LEEKS, AND POTATOES
I realize that I promised to post this recipe “tomorrow” about two weeks ago, but I plead extenuating circumstances. We’ve been continually battling a domino-like series of plumbing problems that’s left us, variously, without hot water, a working kitchen faucet, or a properly draining kitchen sink. I’ve had to call upon my resourceful Midwestern pioneer roots to find viable ways to keep cooking and cleaning in spite of our apartment’s vagaries: boiling hot water on the stove for dishes! Carrying water from the bathtub faucet to cook pasta! Rinsing carrots in the bathroom sink! It’s been all kinds of fun. Occasionally, I’ve had to admit defeat and just order a pizza, or go out to a restaurant to escape the chaotic kitchen. Under these conditions, thinking about cooking just frustrated me. Things finally seem to be on the mend, however (KNOCK ON WOOD), so I can face posting recipes again.
Also on the mend: the tip of my left pinky finger, which I nearly hacked off in an alarming knife mishap while slicing onions for this green chicken korma recipe last week. (Jury’s still out on the recipe. It was OK, but not as flavorful as I expected; I was hoping it would taste just like that green chutney our local Indian restaurant serves with the papadum. It wasn’t too hard to make, but I’m still not sure I’ll want to go through the trouble of doing it again, especially since I now associate it with traumatic flesh wounds.) It was definitely the most severe injury I’ve ever sustained while cooking, and I’m still keeping it under bandages to avoid grossing people out, but it’s healing well and probably won’t even leave a scar. It did impede my typing for a while, though.
So, now that the excuses are done, here’s a tasty summer soup recipe adapted from Jack Bishop’s Vegetables Every Day. If you want a vegetarian version, consult Bishop’s book, but we love this bacon-y variation. I love how simple the recipe is—only 8 ingredients!—and yet how deeply flavorful, thanks to the ingenious concept of boiling the corn cobs for extra-rich corn flavor. Because the recipe calls for whole ears of corn, it’s best to make it at the height of corn season; I’d been eagerly awaiting the appearance of corn at our farmers’ market specifically so I could make this soup. Well, and also corn fritters. And spicy corn on the cob, of course. And there’s this fresh summer succotash recipe I’ve been meaning to try….
Er, anyway, enjoy the chowder while I daydream about corn.
5 medium ears corn
4–6 strips bacon, diced
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
2 cups milk
¾ pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Stand each ear on its end and slice downward with a chef’s knife to remove all the kernels. (Reserve the cobs.) You should have about 3½ cups of kernels.
2. Place the corn cobs and water to cover (about 4 cups) in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Pick out and discard the cobs. Strain and reserve 3 cups corn broth; discard remainder.
3. Sauté bacon in a large saucepan until fat has rendered, about 3 minutes. Add the leeks and continue to sauté over medium heat until bacon is crisp and leeks have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn broth, milk, potatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn kernels and continue to simmer gently until corn and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender (I, of course, use my new best friend, the Cuisinart SmartStick). Return puree to pot and reheat gently. Stir in parsley and adjust seasonings.
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes