Corn Chowder, Clam Linguine, and a cup of coffee

We had a lovely time at the Harvest Moon Fair at the Arlington First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church. We wandered the booths and didn't buy much, seeing as my house could reasonably pass as a giant white elephant table at some fair. But no matter, the main attraction for me has always been the Harvest Café.

Amongst the offerings this year was Jasper White's Corn Chowder, which I excerpt below, courtesy of What Did You Eat? and Kitchen Confit, not to mention the book 50 Chowders, which sounds like my kind of cookbook. Hmm, I think I need a trip to the Summer Shack.

Corn Chowder (Jasper White, 50 Chowders)

3 medium ears fresh yellow or bicolor corn (or white)

4 ounces slab (unsliced) bacon, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice (or use some diced thick cut, sliced bacon)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion (7 to 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/2 large red bell pepper (6 to 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 to 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1/2 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 cups chicken stock or chicken broth

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

1 cup heavy cream--or 3/4 cup 1% milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream

Garnish: 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or thinly sliced scallions

Method

1. Husk the corn. Carefully remove most of the silk by hand and then rub the ears with a towel to finish the job. Cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a bowl. You should have about 2 cups. Using the back of your knife, scrape down the cobs and add the milky substance that oozes out to the corn kernels.

2. Heat a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the bacon is crisp and golden brown. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.

3. Add the butter, onion, bell pepper, thyme, cumin, and turmeric and sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onion and pepper are tender but not browned.

4. Add the corn kernels, potatoes, and stock, turn up the heat, cover, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. Some of the potatoes will have broken up, but most should retain their shape. Use the back of your spoon to smash a bit of the corn and potatoes against the side of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and season the chowder with salt and pepper.

5. Stir the cornstarch mixture and slowly pour it into the pot, stirring constantly. As soon as the chowder has come back to a boil and thickened slightly, remove from the heat and Stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing the flavors to meld.

6. When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don't let it boil. Ladle into cups or bowls and sprinkle with the chopped chives. Serves 4, as a first course.

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