Thursday, March 26, 2009

Corn Chowder (America's Test Kitchen)

Modified a bit but otherwise based on the recipe from The Best 30-Minute Recipe's Quick Corn Chowder

NOTES:
Frozen corn must be thawed ahead of time (thaw out of their bags for quicker results), can be thawed in the microwave, or can be thawed by placing the bags in warm water.
Fresh herbs make a wonderful difference.
It may be easier to cook the bacon without chopping it finely.
Use a traditional pan or dutch oven for browning bacon and onion.
Use lots of hot liquid on med-high light to de-glaze pan.
Soup can be frozen but should not be kept in the freezer too long because of sugars released by the corn.
For cooking fresh corn in the summer and preparing the kernels to be frozen and saved for this recipe, look here.

INGREDIENTS

3 cups chicken broth
1 lb. red potatoes (3 medium)
1 large carrot
1 tsp fresh thyme, about 4-5 sprigs (or 1/4 tsp dried)
2 bay leaves
2 slices bacon
1 med-large onion
2 garlic cloves
2 lbs. frozen corn - THAWED and divided into one 1-lb portion and two 1/2-lb portions (for puréeing)
1-1/2 cups whole milk, divided into two 3/4 cup portions (for puréeing)
Salt and pepper

PREPARATION

AHEAD OF TIME, the previous day:

1. To help the corn thaw, put ONE of the unopened bags in a bowl of very warm water and rearrange the bags every 5 minutes or so. Allow 20-30 minutes with this method, otherwise it will take several HOURS if the corn is left in the bag.

2. Purée the corn after the corn has thawed, then store it in the fridge. Maybe the second bag of corn can be thawed in the fridge overnight...?

AHEAD OF TIME, the same day:

3. Dice the potatoes and leave in cool water.

4. Mince the onion and set aside.

5. Mince the garlic and set aside.

6. Chop the carrot and set aside.

MAIN PREPARATION:

1. Scrub potatoes and dice into 1/2" chunks. Store in large bowl of water. Set aside.

2. Remove leaves from thyme. Peel carrot and cut into smallish discs. Set aside.

3. In Dutch oven, covered, bring broth, potatoes, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves to a boil. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook covered, until needed later.

4. Mince onion and set aside.

5. In traditional skillet, cook bacon for a few minutes, until it just starts to brown. As bacon is cooking, cut into small pieces. Then add onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly brown, about 8 minutes.

6. While bacon and onion are cooking, purée one of the 1/2-lb portions of corn with 3/4 cup milk. Pour into medium bowl. Then repeat with the other 1/2-lb. portion of corn and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Set aside.

7. Mince the garlic directly into the skillet with the bacon and onion. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 secs.

8. Add the bacon and onion mixture to the broth mixture and de-glaze the skillet with about 1/2 cup of hot broth. Add the brown bits from the skillet to the Dutch oven.

9. Add only the puréed corn to the broth mixture and return to simmer until potatoes and carrots are almost tender.

10. When the potatoes and carrots are almost tender, add remaining (whole kernel) corn and simmer til all is heated through.

11. Remove bay leaves and add salt and pepper to taste.

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