Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recipe: Homestyle Bacon Corn Chowder

The goldenrod is yellow, The corn is turning brown, The trees in apple orchards, With fruit are bending down. – Helen Hunt Jackson

Comfort in liquid form (that's not booze!)

Usually... corn chowder calls for a couple slices of bacon. This takes 3/4 of a pound. Yes, it’s a lot of bacon. But I have my excuses. It was raining cats and dogs, I had/have a sore back and was/am in need of comfort.

This chowder delivers, in spades.

Childhood memories will flood your mind when you lean over the pot and inhale…deeply. And believe me, you will do that. This recipe is a pot of memories of “home.”

Corn is just about at its peak right now in Nova Scotia, if not a little past. Last week groceries were selling 10 for $2. This recipe uses three ears. Fresh corn in chowder is always the way to go, not creamed corn. Creamed corn is gross. Does anyone actually seek out cans of creamed corn to eat? Would you admit to it?

Simple, inexpensive ingredients. Left to right: the onions and
potatoes, corn, fried crispy bacon.
I can understand why it is an ingredient in some recipes. Chowder is supposed to be creamy and creamed corn seems to be on the right track. But I don’t like it because it’s “gloopy.” (Is that even a word?)

The real way to thicken a chowder—or chowdah if you’re from New England like some of my relatives—is with potato. The potato is cooked until it starts to disintegrate a little into the water. The starch and potato thickens the liquid and gives it that mouthful body we all love so much.

My chowders are finished off with evaporated milk. For some reason it seems to work better, and taste better, than regular milk or cream. It adds a richness that just isn’t there without it.

This recipe is easy, easy, easy. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being high) it’s got to be 2. If you can peel, dice and slice you can make an excellent, comforting chowder. It's perfect for those rainy, miserable days when you need a warm hug from the kitchen.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted it before. I guess it’s one of those basics you assume everyone knows how to make. But that’s not necessarily the case.

So now it’s memorialized, or more accurately, in a place where I can find it for next time!

Homestyle Bacon Corn Chowder
Makes enough for 4 for a main dish or 8 for an appetizer.
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Serves 4-8
300 g bacon
1 medium onion
3 medium potatoes
3 large ears corn
2 cans (370 ml) evaporated milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cracked black pepper
salt, to taste

Slice the bacon into 1/2 wide pieces. Fry in a stock pot until slightly brown and the fat has rendered out. Remove the bacon to a dish, leaving behind about 1 tbsp of the fat.

Chop the onion and sauté in the bacon fat until slightly browned.

Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2" cubes and add to the pot. Then add water to about 1" above the level of the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.

Remove the kernels from the corn by slicing down the sides of the cobs with a sharp knife. This is best done in a cookie sheet to catch the Kernels. Add them to the pot. Then add the bacon back in.

Add both cans of evaporated milk and the pepper and bring the chowder to a simmer. Let the corn simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the butter. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust.

Serve with white bread or rolls to dip in the chowder liquid as you eat.


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