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Ya Want Some Corn In That Chowda?

By Caroline Clough in Food on Apr 5, 2006 9:14PM

Chicagoist admits it, we're impatient for summer. We wanted to make corn chowder so badly that, even though it will be a good three months (or more) before we'll be seeing the loveliness of in-season corn on the cob, we couldn't stop ourselves. The chowder we ended up making used exclusively frozen corn but it gives us (and you, dear reader) something to think, dream and obsess about until harvest time rolls around. What little improvements can we make? How can we spice it up or tone it down? Chipotle peppers: good or bad idea? Our recipe serves about six and will make your heart stop, whether out of love or too much half and half we can't be sure. Either way your belly will be pleased.

What You Need
4 cups of corn (we used a mix of Trader Joe's Roasted Corn and Sweet Corn, but any frozen corn will do)
6 strips of bacon (thick cut and chopped into about one inch pieces)
1 small white onion (diced)
1/2 red pepper (cut into small little bites)
1/2 orange pepper (cut like its cousin)
2 medium potatoes (cubed...we irregularly cubed ours for variety)
3 medium tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded and sliced thinly)
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon sugar (we used turbinado but regular ol' white sugar will do nicely)
1 bay leaf
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro (chopped roughly)
Ground pepper

And, of course, a big pot.

What You Do
1) In your big pot, fry your bacon until it is crisp. This will take between ten and fifteen minutes. Once crisp, remove the bacon pieces and put them on a paper towel. Remove the majority of the bacon grease from the pan, leaving about three tablespoons.

2) Add the chopped onion to the grease (fancier people refer to it as 'drippings') and cook over medium heat for about five minutes.

3) Add all three peppers and cook for another five minutes.

4) Add the tomatoes and potatoes as well as all the spices and cilantro. Then add the corn.

5) Stir the mixture over medium heat until it sizzles a little. Then turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Keep it like this for about 45 minutes, giving the ingredients the occasional stir. After 45 minutes check and see if the potatoes are cooked. If they are continue to step 6, if not wait until they are and then proceed.

6) Take about 1 cup of the veggie mixture out of the pot and put it into the blender with 1 cup of the half-and-half. Blend until smooth then return to the larger pot. Add the majority of the bacon back to the pot (saving enough to garnish each bowl).

7) Add the cup of milk and remaining cup of half-and-half. If you're not feeling the 2 cups of half-and-half you can easily make all three cups milk ... though we do recommend a little of the heavy stuff (it helps with the thick consisitency that makes chowder so great). Bring the mixture to a boil for about three minutes then remove from heat.

8) Ladle the chowder into medium to large bowls and place a few of the remaining bacon pieces as well as cilantro leaves on top. Eat and be merry.

We felt like our chowder could have had a little more kick to it. If you're into a bit more spice try adding another jalapeno pepper or perhaps branch out to a poblano or chipotle pepper.

This is not a really quick soup to make. If you're thinking about having this be a part of a dinner for friends, we would recommend you cook it a day ahead of time.