Barbara and I met through our mutual support of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). This past spring she invited me to be a guest on the Park Slope Food Coop cooking show that she hosts. We had a great time making shrimp and grits and discussing the critical role that abortion funds play. A couple of weeks ago we decided to reprise our cooking date–only this time (mercifully) the cameras were off.
Barbara emailed me a few days before our date asking what we should make. I mentally reviewed the various foodstuffs cluttering my fridge: corn, potatoes, and a wide variety of peppers. This could have gone any number of ways. Then I remembered that I had several corn cobs stripped of their kernels jammed into my freezer because I had read something about corn broth. Bingo!
Corn & Seafood Chowder
- 8-12 cobs of corn
- 3 ounces slab bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 cubanelle pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 medium russet potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
- 1 pint lobster stock or 1 jar clam juice
- 18-24 cherrystone or littleneck clams
- 2 large filets of flounder (about 1 pound total)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
- Husk the corn and then strip off the kernels using a sharp knife. (I find that doing this over a shallow bowl keeps the kernels from rolling away and also allows me to capture any of the milky liquid that they exude.) Reserve about four cobs’ worth of kernels for your chowder and freeze the rest for succotash, cornbread or the like. Throw the denuded cobs into a large pot with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for half an hour–or as long as it takes you to get through the next couple of steps.
- Dice your bacon, onions, celery, and green peppers. Mince the garlic and jalapeño. Chop the potatoes. Chat about anything and everything. Have a nosh if you like.
- Add the bacon to a large pan and bring up to medium-low heat. Once the fat has mostly rendered and the bacon pieces are just starting to firm up, add the onions. Saute until they are starting to soften and then add your celery and various peppers. Once these have started to soften, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. The key is to soften everything up without allowing it to brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pull the corn cobs out of your soup pot using tongs and then dump your vegetable mixture into the pot along with the diced potatoes. Add the lobster stock or clam juice, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Put the clams in a bowl, cover with cold water, and add some black pepper or cornmeal. (This step, while not strictly necessary, will encourage the clams to spit out their sand, avoiding a certain amount of grit in the finished product.) Leave the pot to simmer for a half hour or more while you retire to the living room for some more chatting.
- Now is a good time to wake Barbara’s husband Chris up from his nap so that he can ready himself for chowder.
- Add the butter. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add your clams and then lay the flounder in gently. Cook until the clams pop open (roughly 15 minutes), by which time your flounder should be white and opaque. Finish with the corn kernels and some fresh parsley.
We ate our chowder in Barbara’s rather perfect Fiestaware bowls, using hunks of bread to soak up the delicious broth. It made for a truly excellent early autumn lunch.