Thursday, June 10, 2004

Cheddary Corn Chowder:Recipe


Oh how I look forward to Wednesdays! It's not just the middle-of-the-week mark, it's also the day that most major newspapers publish their food sections, and the day my organic produce box is delivered. So why do most newspapers publish a sports section every day and a food section only once a week? Another unsolved mystery of the universe. After all, eating on a daily basis is fairly typical so a daily food section makes perfect sense...

This week the produce delivery signaled that summer is surely on the way in. The box included lots of summer "sweeties" like cherries, peaches, strawberries and corn. When corn is fresh it can be one of the sweetest vegetables around. It also has vitamin C and trace amounts of beta carotene. Unfortunately it can lose up to 40% of its sugar content after as little as six hours of room temperature storage, so if you buy it freshly picked cook it as soon as you can. If you don't, it's likely to turn starchy.

Though I grew up eating boiled corn on the cob with butter, I now prefer it grilled like you find in the streets of Mexico served with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chile powder. Off the cob it's good in a salsa or soup. If you want to oven-roast it, here's how: Peel back the corn husk and rip out the corn silk. Fold the husk back over the corn and place in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. If you like the corn slightly charred, let it cool enough to handle then pull back the husks and hold over an open flame until charred to taste. There not much to do with the corn cobs, except perhaps save them up and build yourself a corn palace and give the folks in Mitchell, South Dakota a little competition.

Cheddary Corn Chowder
2-4 servings

Instructions

3 ears of corn, cut kernels from cob and save the cobs
2 small potatoes, or one large one sliced into thin slices
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped or diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 thick slice of bacon or 2 thin slices, diced (optional)
1-2 Tablespoons oil
1 can (14 oz) chicken or vegetable broth
1 can (14 oz) water
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup milk
1 Tablespoon flour
1/4 cup or so shredded sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

Heat the oil and bacon in a medium soup pot. When it starts to sizzle, add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute until soft, but not brown. Add the corn and saute another couple of minutes. Add the broth and water and potatoes and the corn cobs. Cook until the potato is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and the milk mixed with the flour. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove the corn cobs. Using a hand blender, puree about half the soup or put half the soup in a blender and puree. Mix, heat through then turn the stove off and stir in the cheddar cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper (it will need several large pinches of salt) If you like grill seasoning or any other flavored pepper you can use that.

Enjoy!