I first made this three years ago, and as we’re still talking about it, we ought to be making it more frequently (and maybe by the vat to freeze for when we’re missing summer). Now is peak timing, as this chowder’s success rests on fresh sweet corn right off the cob and the other vegetables are perfectly seasonal.
You’ll want to shuck the corn and pick off the silks, and then ideally have a big bowl to cut the kernels off into – on the cutting board they fall as you slice and scatter, and they’re rather sticky things. Hold the cob upright and slice straight down on all sides, minding that it could be slippery. After cutting off the kernels, I also use the edge of the knife to scrape the cob, which pulls the germ of each kernel out. The germ contains a lot of nutrients, and including it makes the cut corn very creamy.
My family’s big on freezing sweet corn for eating in the winter: boil the ears of corn for about three minutes, remove to cold water to stop the cooking, cut the kernels off the cob, scrape them for the germ, transfer to freezer bags, and send them to your deep-freeze. You’ll be surprised by how much more flavorful it is.
Now there’s no two ways about it – the other key to this chowder, other than the fresh sweet corn and seasonal vegetables, is a bit of bacon. I like meat, but I love using it as a flavoring. I’ve found using meat as a flavoring element rather than as a meal focus to be a happy middle-ground between eco-friendliness (eating meat, and flying on airplanes, are the two biggest contributors to most peoples’ carbon footprints) and omnivorism.
In this recipe, you’ll chop and fry about 6 strips of bacon, remove it from the pan, and use the drippings as the fat for sautéing the vegetables. Bacon from happy, outdoor-raised pigs typically releases surprisingly little fat – I wasn’t sure if it’d be enough, but it made it. I’m partial to New Pi’s Grass Run Farm‘s bacon. When they’re available, I like to get the big ends and pieces packages, which are a fabulous buy, and ideal for cooking with when you’ll be cutting it up anyway (not so ideal for Sunday brunch bacon, but cooking, yes). Grass Run Farm’s bacon is incredibly smoky and sweet – perfect, in my book.