I know that most people think of corn as a summer vegetable – and yes, it’s hard to beat fresh roasting ears, just steamed or grilled with butter.
But as an ingredient in other dishes, I really enjoy corn most during the fall. There is something about its sweetness and hearty flavor that goes especially well in soups and casseroles and cold-weather dishes like savory corn pudding. This corn chowder is really too thick, rich and filling for a summer supper – but it’s perfect now that temperatures have finally started to cool down just a bit.
Thanks to extended growing seasons and better shipping and handling, you can find good, fresh sweet corn-on-the-cob in the produce section year-round these days. You can substitute good-quality frozen corn in this recipe if you really must, but the taste won’t be quite as bright and the texture may not be quite as good. If you are substituting frozen corn, you’ll need about five cups; keep two cups whole and use as is, and run the other three cups through your food process or blender briefly to get a roughly pureed texture.
Makes about 2 quarts
10 ears corn husks and silks removed
3 to 4 slices bacon, cut into pieces
1 Tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 Tbs Unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 lb large red potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Bay leaf
1tsp thyme leaves, chopped fine
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp table salt
ground black pepper
Stand corn on end. Using chef’s knife cut kernels from 4 ears of corn (you should have about 3 cups); transfer to medium bowl and set aside. Grate kernels from remaining 6 ears on large holes of box grater, then firmly scrape any pulp remaining on cobs with back of knife (you should have 2 generous cups kernels and pulp). Transfer to separate bowl and set aside.
Sauté bacon in Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, until crisp and golden brown. Reduce heat to low, stir in butter and onions, cover pot, and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add stock. Add potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, milk, grated corn and pulp; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add reserved corn kernels and heavy cream and return to simmer; simmer until corn kernels are tender yet still slightly crunchy, about 5 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper to taste and serve immediately.