Saturday, April 21, 2012

corn chowder with chiles

corn chowder with chiles, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I'm currently obsessed with corn chowder. The tex-mex restaurant where I tend bar on the weekends makes an amazing chicken corn chowder which is only prepared for Sunday brunch. I love that soup. I harrassed the chef for the recipe and scribbled down the pertinent ingredients that stood out from the other dozen recipes that I had stock-piled. Namely fresh jalepenos, poblanos, fresh lime juice and cilantro. That recipe also starts with their tortilla soup base made from fresh home made chicken stock. The math overwhelmed.
I decided this recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks was the best place to start. It starts with bacon. 'Nuf said.
I try reallyreallyreally hard, when making a recipe for the first time, to follow it verbatim, before I start tweaking. It's hard. I was proud of my restraint from adding the potatoes and chunks of cooked chicken breast I had sitting there eager to be a part of this soup. "Next time. Next time." I kept telling myself. There will definitely be a next time with this and it was damn perfect outta the gate. It starts with bacon. I said that right?
Ok...a few tiiiinnnny tweaks. I subbed the chicken stock for corn stock I made with the fresh shaved cobs. I never buy boxed  or canned chicken stock. The decent ones are too pricey for the little kitchen and I just can't justify that when I can buy a whole chicken for six bucks. I buy a powdered "fake" chicken broth seasoning in bulk from Whole Foods or Rainbow, which I added to the corn stock.  I also toasted the corn kernals, after slicing them off the cob, in a dry non-stick skillet, deglazed with lots of fresh lime juice and I also added one extra chipotle pepper. That was it.

Here's what went into this corn stock:

6 cups of water
6 corn cobs
one onion cut into 8 chunks
3 smallish carrots scrubbed and cut into chunks
3-4 celery stalks cut into chunks
about a 2 teaspoons of whole black pepper corns
about a teaspoon of whole coriander
about a teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of dried tarragon (my new favorite herb)
3 serrano peppers
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
6 tablespoons of "fake" chicken seasoning

Once it's come to a boil I let it simmer for an hour. Scoop out the big chunks of vegetables with a slotted spoon, then strain the rest through a clean tea towel. I add the powdered seasoning after  straining. At this point you'll want to taste it and add more salt if you need it.

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