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Sweet Corn and New Potato Chowder
Plus, a Day in Coastal New Brunswick
This morning was crisp and clear, bright and breezy and more like late September in spirit. I don’t mind.
I put on my slippers, threw on my worn, wool cardigan and dove into the freezer, reaching for the chicken bones I had saved from a few weeks back. Into the pot they went, along with some carrots, a halved onion, a head of garlic sliced crosswise and some Italian parsley. I let it simmer for a few hours, spooned and salted some into a mug and sipped it for a late breakfast. I had a plan for dinner…
My friend Deanne, an incredible rug hooking artist, scooped me up for a day trip to coastal New Brunswick and I’m lucky to find someone to show me all over the province and someone who will drive 45 minutes out of the way to find the very best corn. Deanne was born in Newfoundland, but has lived in Nova Scotia for over 30 years - she knows what’s what.
Our first stop was to her friend Ghita Levin’s pottery studio in Baie Verte, whose work I had admired at Deanne’s cottage a few weeks back. Ghita’s space is sunny and beautiful and I wanted all of the things - of course I bought more than a handful of items for the farmhouse. I plan on returning soon.
Ghita Levin’s Studio in Baie Verte, NB.
We then stopped at a bakery for bread and biscuits and asked the women in front of us where to find the very best corn, which she told us was in Bouchtouche about 45 minutes away. We said what the heck and after a quick stop at a gentleman’s home for some gorgeous tomatoes, away we went on a beautiful drive through Shediac to La Ferme Michaud in Bouctouche. They indeed had the most incredible corn, which I bought a baker’s dozen of. I told you I had a plan!
The tomatoes. And some new potatoes, which need a good scrub, but do not need to be peeled. They are for sale everywhere.
We headed back with a stop in Cap Pélé for fish and a quick snack of fried fish and clams right on the water, before making the drive home late afternoon. It was perfect. I then went ahead and began assembling dinner, which was this chowder. It was hands down the best chowder I’ve made. I hope you make and love it as much as I do.
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Sweet Corn and New Potato Chowder
A few things to note about this recipe. First, MAKE IT. It’s VERY good. I do not use flour or puree part of the soup to thicken it up - I like a brothier chowder and it thickens slightly from the starch of the potatoes. I also had a happy accident. I planned on cooking the pancetta first and then using some of it’s fat to sauté the vegetables in, but I forgot. I ended up doing it while the soup simmered, and I’m happy I did. The pancetta flavor won’t overpower the other flavors this way. You can also leave it out if you don’t eat pork. I’m also up to my ears in new potatoes here in Nova Scotia (not complaining!), but if you can’t find them use Yukon Golds. Lastly, if you feel like topping this chowder with some crab, lobster meat and smoked trout - I’m sure it would be delicious.
SERVES 4 to 6
4 tablespoons butter
½ white onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeños finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ pound new potatoes or Yukon Golds, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 ears corn, kernels removed
4 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces pancetta (optional)
Scallions, basil and roughly chopped corn nuts for serving (optional)
Biscuits for serving (optional)
In a stock pock or large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeños and celery and season well with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until they soften and the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and the corn and toss to coat with the onion mixture. Season well with salt and I mean well, like a good, heaping palmful. The potatoes need the salt - I promise it won’t be too salty.
Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and partially cover. Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While the soup simmers, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently until crispy, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the chowder.
When the potatoes are tender. Pour in the cream and allow it to simmer (not boil) for a minute or so. Remove the pot from the heat and leave it covered for about 10 minutes. It will still be hot when it’s time to serve.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with some thinly sliced scallions, basil and/or roughly chopped corn nuts. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly with salt (you likely won’t need any) and a good few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
Some other good recipes involving chowder and corn:
Susan Spungen posted a great recipe for Fire Island Clam Chowder.
Alexis deBoschnek has a very lovely recipe inspired by Mexican street corn, entitled “Elote-ish.”
That’s all friends! I appreciate you being here. Have a beautiful Sunday!
If you haven’t treated yourself to a copy of Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food - why not do it now?! xo