Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Potato and Corn Chowder

I wanted something rich, but not overpowering. I wanted something savory and simple. I wanted a dish that harkened back to my childhood.

But mostly I wanted to avoid this:

That is my freezer. The thing sticking out of the right side is an ice pack I stuck in there three weeks ago. At the time, it was the only thing that would fit.

Luckily, our fridge is pretty empty at the moment since C. and I just got back from a week-long family reunion in San Diego and haven't had a chance to replenish our pantry yet, so the timing is ideal to defrost. Tomorrow we're planning on unplugging the poor beast, wedging a plastic tub underneath to catch the melted ice and crossing our fingers.

In the meantime I needed to use up as many perishables as I could. Beyond the jar of C.'s uncle's pickled jalapenos, a loaf of sandwich bread, and some long-neglected leftovers there wasn't anything except for a small carton of cream - just enough cream for a pot of chowder.

New Potato and Corn Chowder
serves 4-5 as main course

recipe adapted from NPR's Kitchen Window column

1 cup heavy cream

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed, de-eyed and halved

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed and trimmed

6 slices bacon

1 bag frozen yellow corn

4 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp. ground mustard

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

small nubbin of butter

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Pat the bacon with paper towels to remove excess grease and set aside. Drain off all but two tablespoons of the bacon fat remaining in the saucepan, then add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Deglaze the pan with a glug of chicken stock, making sure to get those nice caramelized bits of bacon and onion off the bottom so they incorporate into the broth. Add the potatoes, corn and remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, around 15 - 20 minutes.

2. While the soup comes to a boil, cut the bacon into thin slivers with kitchen shears or chop roughly with a knife. Set aside. In a small bowl, muddle the ground mustard, salt and pepper with a little of the cream so it forms an even paste. Stir in the rest of the cream and let sit until it reaches room temperature.

3. Remove around 1 cup of the potatoes from the saucepan and mash until smooth. After it's cooled a bit, add a bit of the seasoned cream and mash to incorporate it evenly. Keep adding cream for 1/4 cup's worth, then move the saucepan off the heat and add the cream and potato mixture to the soup. Slowly add the rest of the cream, taking care to stir it in. Top it off with the butter and let it melt, then serve with a generous pinch of the bacon slivers and eat it piping hot.

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