Sunday, March 20, 2011

Recipe: Corn Chowder

I was entirely spoiled last week by four wonderful days spent soaking up as much Cancun sun as possible. After long (and rough, let me tell you) days of lying out by the pool, my sisters and I dined in the fantastic establishments on site at our hotel.

The only dish during vacation I wasn't crazy about was a corn chowder I had the last night of vacation. I enjoy a sweetness incorporated when I cook with corn and this particular dish was too savory for my taste. The problem for me when this sort of thing happens is that cravings of mine don't go away. If I'm dissatisfied with something I eat it lingers in the back of my mind until I can fix it. This is what lead me to cooking a corn chowder amidst the transition from winter to spring - not your typical time for soup or corn on the cob, but a craving is a craving.

This particular recipe requires corn that's still on the cob. Two great things about this are: 1. In the summer, corn on the cob is one of the cheapest and most delicious (at least for me in the midwest) things you can buy from the produce section and 2. For those of you that get hit with the urge to make this chowder before the stalks are knee high, you can buy corn in the freezer section that is still on the cob.

Corn Chowder
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Serves 4
1 hour to prepare (45 minutes inactive)
Difficulty: Medium

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp. plus ½ tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

  1. Shuck the kernels from the ears of corn. Set the corn kernels aside and place the cleaned cobs into a large stock pot.
  2. Add the water, ½ tsp. of coarse salt and the pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard cobs and reserve cooking liquid.
  3. Increase heat to medium and melt the butter in the stockpot. Once melted, add scallions and cook for one minute.
  4. Whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time to make a roux. Once all the flour is incorporated, allow mixture to cook until it turns a golden-brown color.
  5. Pour in the milk and reserved cooking liquid and whisk to combine with the roux. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow soup to boil, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in shucked kernels, sugar, and remaining salt. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Leftover quality: Excellent, use leftovers within one week

Tips and Tricks:
  1. If time allows, let the corn cobs cool before removing them from the stock and squeeze them to ring out any excess liquid the cobs have absorbed.
  2. The amount of sugar can be adjusted depending on your taste. If you’re unsure, add sugar one teaspoon at a time and taste between additions.
  3. For a leaner, less creamy version, substitute skim milk for whole milk.