Celebrating the Seasons

From February 2008 E-newsletter




Dreamy Corn Chowder


Nothing speaks of summer like corn, but this time of year we're dependant on the frozen stuff. Just like forcing branches, however, there are ways to make the most of summer foods in the winter. This easy-to-prepare, velvety chowder will hit the spot, and quickly become a favorite in your home, as it is in mine.

Ingredients

4strips of bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow or sweet Vidalia onion, diced (2 cups)
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups homemade chicken broth (see recipe below) or 1, 32-ounce box of low sodium chicken broth
4-5 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2cups half-and-half
1 32 oz. package frozen corn or 4 cups canned corn, drained
1 red pepper, seeded and finely diced
6scallions (green onions) white parts only, thinly sliced
1tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup or stockpot, saut the bacon on medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is nearly crisp. Keeping the heat low, add the butter and the onion and sauté until soft and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and blend for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and potatoes. Cook until potatoes are still slightly firm in the center. Add the half-and-half and the corn, and cook another 10 minutes. Garnish with red bell pepper, chopped scallions, and fresh cilantro. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve hot.

Homemade Chicken Stock:

I've had many requests for homemade chicken stock, which is so easy and far more satisfying than store-bought, that it's time that you give it a try. Here's what I do:

Place a whole chicken (buy a soup chicken, which is typically an older bird, or the equivalent chicken parts, and less expensive) into a 6 - 8 quart stockpot and cover with cold water. Add one onion, peeled and quartered, 4 stalks of celery, rinsed and coarsely chopped, 3 to 5 carrots, whittled into 3-inch chunks, 2 bay leaves, 3 to 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dry), 5 sprigs of fresh parsley, and if you have sage from your garden, add a few whole leaves or 1 teaspoon dry. Bring water to a gentle boil (this draws out the flavor from the bones) then reduce the heat to a simmer for at least one hour, preferably two. Remember that the longer it simmers, the richer the stock will taste.

Remove from the heat, and allow the broth to cool just a bit. Meanwhile, set up a colander or a large strainer over another stockpot — I do this in the sink — and pour the stock into the colander. Refrigerate the stock or use immediately; it can also be frozen in quart containers. Discard the vegetables and herbs, and reserve the chicken carcass. Pick the meat from the bones of the carcass to use for other recipes.

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