Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fresh Sweet Corn Chowder and CI Drop Biscuits

Friday was about 55 degrees and raining out. I took half of the day off so that I could get a few things done, one of them being a visit to the farmer's market that didn't have to be rushed, but given the weather we hurried anyway. I had already loaded up at Kendall Square on Thursday, so I didn't find myself getting much. There is still corn, though it won't be around much longer, and I have been meaning to make something with it other than straight up on the cob. I picked up a half dozen ears, some beets and garlic, some eggs and ground beef from Shady Pine.

I have been craving bacon lately, and my searching turns up this recipe from a site called grouprecipes.com, with which I am not familiar. This is light, straightforward, and on the sweet side. In a brain-dead moment I used chicken stock at the end rather than milk, but it tasted very good regardless, just less, er, like a chowder.

I'll re-learn how to cook one of these days, I guess.

4 ears sweet corn, husks removed
4 slices bacon
½ medium onion, finely diced
1 medium baking potato, peeled and cut into small dices
dash of dried thyme
salt and black pepper
1 cup milk or half-and-half

  1. Remove corn kernels from cob by running a sharp knife from top to bottom of cob – rotate cob, cutting kernels off all sides.
  2. Use a spoon to run down the sides of the stripped cobs to extract as much of the "milk" as possible from the cob, letting the milk fall into the corn kernels. For soup stock, break the stripped corn cobs into thirds and place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer and cook cobs for 20 minutes. Remove cobs from pot and strain the liquid – you should have about 2 cups of corn stock.
  4. In a medium saucepan, cook bacon until crisp; drain bacon and crumble into small pieces.
  5. Remove bacon, leaving 1 tablespoon bacon grease in pan (if you don’t use the bacon, add 1 tablespoon butter to pan).
  6. Saute onions in grease (or butter) until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the diced potato, corn kernels and any "milk" that you extracted from the cob, 2 cups corn stock, thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Bring to a simmer; cook, partially covered, skimming any foam as necessary, until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  10. Add milk or half-and-half.
  11. Heat through (don’t boil).
  12. Serve, topping each bowl with some crumbled bacon.
With the soup we had a green salad, and I made drop biscuits. Since the whole idea was to make something new, I went looking for a recipe instead of turning to one I had already used.

Unlike a lot of people I know, I am not a big fan of Cooks Illustrated. I actually find their attitude kind of irritating, and I don't normally want an entire page of backstory on how they found their idea of the perfect recipe for X. But these are really good biscuits, light and flaky, and incredibly easy to make, so I will give them this one. Grudgingly.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup cold buttermilk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes), plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing biscuits

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.
  2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
  3. Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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