What word comes to mind when you think of corn? A good ear of corn is naturally sweet.
As we’ve said here before, boiling corn pulls the corn flavor into the boiling water. The corn gets drained in a colander. Now, the water and all that flavor gets washed down the drain. Do yourself a favor and always oven roast or grill your corn.
Wrap it in foil or keep the husks intact. Corn husks are like nature’s tin foil. They are already tightly wrapped around the ears of corn and ready to retain the heat during cooking time. It keeps all the flavor in the corn. Not the drain in the sink.
Paying for pre-shredded or pre-sliced food items is a choice. Most markets carry pre-chopped pancetta. The pre-chopped pancetta tends to be a little dry which is fine for this corn chowder since it gets cooked with some onion and garlic. It doesn’t work so well in an uncooked dish.
Start by grilling your corn. There are two methods for grilling the corn. Leave the corn in the husks and place the corn on the side of the grill without a direct flame. Cover the grill for about 30 minutes.
Or, you can remove the corn from the husks and place over direct flame for a few minutes. This will caramelize some of the corn’s sugars in the kernels and give a smoky layer of flavor. Finish on the side of the grill with indirect heat (no flame) and cover for about 25 minutes.
Allow corn to cool and remove husks. Use a knife to cut off corn kernels with a knife and scrape the corn cobs with a spoon. This will get the milky juices out of the corn. Reserve half an ear of corn kernels.
Begin to render some cubes of pancetta in a pot. As you stir, the oils from the pancetta will begin to coat the bottom of the pot. Once the pancetta is crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
Add some chopped onion to the pot and stir until translucent. Now, your chopped garlic and continue to cook for about I minute. Stir in the kernels and chicken or vegetable stock. Use your wooden spoon to get the brown bits on the bottom of your pot left behind from the pancetta.
You can make this a vegetarian corn chowder by using vegetable stock. Place pancetta cubes in the pot and simmer on a low flame for about 30 minutes. In a blender, puree the reserved corn kernels. Stir into the soup. This will add as a thickener for the chowder. Use salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in some light cream and chopped scallions and chives. To take this soup into the fall, swap out the chives for some fresh sage leaves. Serve your creamy corn chowder warm, room temperature or chilled.
Check out the posts by me over at Parade.com in the Food section.
Your ingredient list for the chowder is below.
6 ears of corn
1 cup chopped pancetta
1 large onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup light cream
4 scallions chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chives chopped
salt and pepper to taste