Corn and Crab Chowder

As soon as September 1st rolls around it begins. Jack Skellington memes on Facebook. Reports of Pumpkin Spice everything at the grocery store. Young women who just spent the summer in sun dresses and sandals are digging out their boots, flannels, and puffy vests. “OMG it’s finally FALL!”

Except it isn’t. Not really. Not in Pennsylvania. We had sunny, hot, summer-like 80 degree weather until…

Like a week and a half ago. I was still sleeping with my air conditioner on. It was maddening, especially given the crappy rainy summer we did have. But now, finally, MIDWAY THROUGH OCTOBER, fall has arrived. Leaves are changing, the air is crisp and cool and I’m craving soup pretty much 24/7.

This is a great soup to make during late summer/early fall, when the corn harvest is still abundant. You can make this any time of year with frozen corn, but fresh corn is fantastic with the crab meat and bacon in the chowder.

You will need: Corn, fresh lump crab meat, bacon, four medium potatoes, one large onion, two to four cloves of garlic, one large bell pepper (or 1/2 to 3/4 each of two medium sized ones), vegetable stock, seafood stock jelly packet (optional, you could use a carton of seafood stock if you have it available), fresh parsley, heavy cream, and seasoning.

Note: This isn’t a “chowder” in the strictest sense of the word, because it’s not super thick or rich  – I don’t add flour to the fat with the cooked vegetables to make a roux before adding the stock. You absolutely can do so if you prefer a richer soup. I’ve always just made it this way and I really enjoy it. 

Start by heating a large soup pot over medium heat, and cut four strips of bacon into large dice. Add the bacon to the hot pot and cook until browned and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels.

Snack on a piece or two, I won’t tell. Dice the onion and bell peppers and add them to the rendered bacon fat in the pot and saute until translucent and soft. Mince the garlic, add to pot, and saute until fragrant. Add a little salt and pepper and some onion and garlic powder if you like.

While the vegetables are sauteing, remove the corn from the cobs and dice the potatoes into small bite size pieces. Add the corn and potatoes to the pot, along with the seafood stock jelly and vegetable stock, and increase the heat to medium-high.

This isn’t a necessary ingredient; you can just buy liquid seafood stock, or use plain vegetable or chicken stock(low sodium) if you prefer. I just tried this to see if it made a difference in flavor – I think this definitely made the chowder more “fishy” than when I’ve made it in the past.

Allow the vegetables and stock to come to a low boil, reduce heat back down to medium, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. While the soup is simmering, drain the crab meat and pick through to make sure there are no pieces of shell left in the meat.

Fresh lump crab meat is best here – don’t scrimp on this ingredient. It’s a bit pricey but sometimes you can hit a good seafood sale at your local grocery store.

When the potatoes are fork tender, add the crab meat to the soup along with the cooked bacon. Stir together and allow to simmer 5-10 minutes so the flavors mingle. Add 1/2 pint of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. Check seasonings and serve.

Corn and Crab Chowder

  • 4 or 5 ears fresh corn on the cob, husked and kernels removed
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (can leave peels on, just scrub well)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 orange pepper, but use whatever you prefer)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 lb fresh lump crab mean, drained and any remaining bits of shell removed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • seafood stock jelly
  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels and set aside. Saute the onion and bell pepper in the remaining bacon drippings (add a little olive oil or butter if you need more fat for sauteing) until translucent. Add minced garlic and saute for one minute more. ~This is where you would add a tablespoon of flour to the fat to thicken the soup if you prefer.~

Add corn, diced potatoes, and seafood stock jelly to the vegetables and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add vegetable stock to the pot and allow to come to a slow boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer until the potatoes are just cooked through. Add crab meat and bacon to the pot and simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in cream and parsley and adjust seasonings to taste, if necessary.

Serve with crackers and enjoy!

Post Number 200! An Update and A Recipe.

Hello there, and welcome back to my little blog. I know blogs are so early 00’s but I still read them, so I figure other people out there do too. (And thank you for doing so!)

So, life update. I’m still working like crazy at both jobs. I did make a conscious decision to take fewer hours at my second job, but I still end up working quite a few days a month there. I’m still waiting to hit that Powerball. No word yet.

The cats are good boys. Dean is getting super chubby despite the fact that I do NOT over feed them – I just feel like some cats are pre-disposed to be chubs.

He’s super cute though. Even when he is grumpy as hell.

Made a few changes around the house – I got a new stove! My old one was giving out on me last year, which I finally noticed the week I was baking all my Christmas cookies. Of course. So between holiday gift cards, cash, and a little help from mom and dad, I was able to get a new stove. Best part? Convection. Fancy!

I’m still getting the hang of her, however. I was used to the old stove that didn’t get as hot or cook food as fast. I gotta keep on my toes with this one!

Dad also helped me refresh the living room with a new coat of paint. It had been a pretty butter yellow for years but I was ready for a change. I wanted something a little neutral but dramatic, and I thought a medium beige-ish gray would be perfect.

And it is.

And finally, my biggest life update: there’s a boy. In my life.

Yes, a boy. We’ve been dating since October. I like him. That’s all you get.

Onto the recipe! I had this one in my brain for a couple of weeks and took advantage of a day off recently to give it a go. It’s easy enough to pull together on a week night yet just ‘fancy’ enough to serve to someone special for an at-home date night.

I love corn served alongside scallops, I think the sweetness of the corn complements the succulent butteriness of the scallops, and the pop of heat from the roasted poblano pepper gives the puree a great kick.

I started with a few ears of corn, four or five. Shuck and remove silk, drizzle with olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Grill on high for approximately 10-12 minutes until roasted on all sides.

Grill the poblano pepper for a few minutes on all sides until the skin is blackened and blistered.

Remove from grill and place in a zip top bag or a covered bowl for a few minutes until the skin softens and you’re able to remove it easily. Remove the stem and seeds, and dice the pepper. Remove the corn from the grill and cut the kernels off the cobs.

Place half of the corn in a blender and puree until smooth.

Edit: This is where my pretty new stove’s super-hot burners kinda bit me in the butt, I had to move so fast to make sure nothing burned that I couldn’t take any more photos of the action. Whomp whomp.

Add pureed corn to a medium saucepan, stir in remaining corn and diced poblano. Add 1 TB butter, a splash of cream or half and half, 3 TBS parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat on medium low until the butter melts and the mixture bubbles slightly.

In a large saute pan, heat a few tablespoons of butter until melted. Pat the scallops dry and season with a little salt and pepper. Add to the pan with melted butter and cook on both sides until browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with the corn and pepper puree.

I served it alongside these easy sautéed green beans.

Yum. Tender, perfectly cooked scallops. Sweet, creamy corn with just a touch of char, and the perfect amount of heat from the poblanos. I highly recommend this one before the corn is all gone for the summer.

Sautéed Scallops with Roasted Corn and Poblano Puree

  • Large Scallops, 4 per person
  • 4-6 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 5 Tb butter
  • 3 Tb grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tb half and half, milk or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • Other seasonings, as desired for corn puree (I used a little of this.)

Brush a light coating of olive oil over the ears of corn and season with salt and pepper. Grill corn until roasted on all sides, approximately 10-12 minutes. Grill poblano until charred and softened, approximately 10 minutes. Place poblano in a zip top bag and allow to cool. Remove blackened skin from the outside, remove seeds and stem, and cut into small dice.

Remove corn kernels from cobs. Puree half of the corn in a blender until smooth. Pour the puree into a small saucepan, add the remaining corn kernels and diced pepper, 1 TB butter, cream or half and half, parmesan cheese, and desired seasonings. Stir over medium low heat until incorporated and the mixture starts to bubble lightly.

Melt remaining butter in a pan over medium heat. Pat scallops dry on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Sautee scallops in pan until brown and just cooked through, approximately 3-4 minutes per side, depending on size of scallops.

Serve scallops immediately over corn puree and enjoy.

 

 

 

Simple Supper: Linguine with Fresh Clams

Did you ever inexplicably get a craving for a dish that you never had in your entire life? And were kind of convinced you’d never like anyway so never bothered to try? That’s how this happened. I was sitting at work one Friday afternoon, wondering what to make for dinner, when suddenly the urge for linguine with fresh steamed clams came over me. Not canned white clam sauce, but fresh steamers, still in their shells, piled on top of a plate of buttery, lemony linguine, with just a hint of crisp pinot grigio in the sauce.

“Mmm,” Said my imagination.

“Growl,” Said my stomach.

So off I went to my local Wegman’s after work to gather my ingredients. Lo and behold when I got to the fish counter, I find that they don’t sell clams by the dozen, but only by bags of 50. Now, I can pack away some food, but FIFTY clams? Plus pasta? Not happening. I grumped away from the counter (yes, grumped. It’s a verb), picked up a baguette, a nice hunk of cheese, and a bag of grapes for dinner and vowed to make the dish of my daydreams another time.

A few weeks later on my day off, with visions of linguine still in my mind,  I headed to the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market in the hopes that my luck would be better with their fish mongers. And it was. I picked up a couple dozen middle neck steamers, and I got my produce for half the week while I was there, to boot.

I got the clams home and immediately put them in a bowl of water in the fridge with some oatmeal for a few hours. This helps the clams spit out any sand or grit that might be in their shells.

When it was time to make dinner, I put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. I grabbed my favorite braising pan, added a few inches of water, and brought that to a boil as well. I added the clams to the second pot and covered them.

Once the shells were all opened I removed the clams from the water and set them aside. I drained the water from the pot, dried it quickly, and returned the pot to the medium high stove top. I added butter and oil to the pan & let it melt & come to temp.

I added some diced shallot and garlic and sauteed for a few minutes. Once the shallots are translucent to slightly browned, add the red pepper flakes (if desired), then white wine and fresh lemon juice.

Shell half to 3/4ths of the clams and add them to the sauce. Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the sauce, adding the fresh lemon zest and parsley, and salt and pepper as needed. Finish with another tablespoon or two of butter. Toss the remaining clams (in shell) and serve.

I made a garnish of parsley, lemon zest, a little bread crumb, and extra virgin olive oil to go on top, but I’d probably skip it next time. It didn’t need it.

Linguine with Fresh Clams

1/2 lb linguine

2 dozen fresh clams in the shell

1 large shallot, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 lemons, zested and juiced

2 TB fresh parsley, chopped fine

1/2 tsp red pepper flake (optional)

1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

4 TB unsalted butter

4 TB olive oil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Steam clams in a small amount of water until just cooked, drain, and set aside. Melt 2 TB butter and 2TB olive oil over medium high heat. Sautee shallots and garlic until just browned. Add red chili flake if desired. Add lemon juice and white wine, stir to combine. Toss in pasta and parsley. Remove clams from shells (leave a few in for presentation) and add to pasta. Add remaining butter and olive oil, heat through and serve.