Crab & Sweet Corn Chowder
Hello from my (ridiculously brief) summer vacation in East Hampton. The only reason I’m posting a recipe while on vacation is that the local produce out here is so astonishing that I’m inspired to cook here more than I am at home. As much as the area is known for spiffy homes, those homes are separated by farms and farm stands bursting with glorious peaches, grapes, melons, vegetables, tomatoes, and berries. The sweet corn in particular haunts my beachy dreams with its caviar-pop sweetness.
As an added bonus, the fish scene is as fresh as the fashion. Every summer, my father-in-law makes us his famous crab cakes, a recipe I’ve already shared, so this year I settled on making up a crab and sweet corn chowder. It’s not difficult to put your hands on good lump crab meat in Minnesota (Coastal Seafoods sells it, for instance), and Lord knows we know good sweet corn right exactly now. Work in some of the fresh herbs overgrowing your garden, serve wearing high heels alongside a plate of perfectly ripe tomatoes, and call it August, Hamptons-in-Minnesota style.
Crab & Sweet Corn Chowder
6 ears corn, shucked
4 c. seafood stock or 2 8-oz. bottles clam juice + 2 c. water
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced small
3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 to 1 c. heavy cream (per your preference)
1 lb. lumb crab meat
1/4 c. minced fresh parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Remove kernels from corn by laying corn cobs on their sides and slicing down with a sharp knife. Set corn kernels aside in a bowl. Cut cobs into 4 pieces each and transfer to a large sauce pan.
Add stock to corn cobs and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stock cool, with the cobs, while you prepare the rest of the soup.
In another large saucepan, saute the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Leaving the bacon in the pan, stir in the onion and saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the potatoes, bay leaf, dried thyme, Old Bay seasoning, and corn to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Using tongs, remove the corn cob pieces from the stock and discard. Stir the stock into the bacon and vegetables and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream, crab, and parsley and heat for a minute or two (do not boil). Remove pan from heat and season the chowder with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot.
And oh, congratulations chef Sameh Wadi (Saffron, World Street Kitchen) for his win at the Minneapolis Farmers Market Country Chef Challenge this past Saturday! He and chef Jack Riebel (Butcher and the Boar) faced off with fresh-and-fabulous items quickly gathered at the market. I was a lucky, lucky judge, along with Lee Dean, food editor at the Star Tribune, and Matt Brickman and Jamie Yuccas, weekend anchors at WCCO-TV.
Jack Riebel’s luscious beer cheese soup with tomatoes, chiles, maple-glazed bacon, fried croutons.
Sameh Wadi’s stunning tomato salad with smoked tomato vinaigrette and raspberries (top) and fragrant trout tagine with squash and sweet corn.
Not a bad way to kick off the weekend, ha! I went from the market to the airport. Whee! Nice.
Notice how both chefs featured the gorgeous tomatoes flooding the markets right now. If you’re looking for new (as well as tried-and-true) ways to use the tomatoes in your garden or at the market (like the gorgeous tomato jam pictured!), join chef Scott Pampuch and me for the last class in our Provisions series at Kitchen in the Market. This Thursday night we will be talking and eating tomatoes and berries: Jams, syrups, freezing, sauces, preserving in oil, on and on and on. We’ll share tasty cocktails and a delicious meal as we chat and learn. Join us!