For all the fuss that goes into preparing for summer, we certainly shut it down quickly. One minute you are at the beach with hardly a care in the world and then it’s Labor Day and white shoes are out and pumpkin is everywhere.
I always struggle this time of year with cooking. The past couple of months, I grilled my share of squash and zucchini and I’m dying to turn on the oven and roast, bake, and braise my way into fall. Yet my calendar tells me to slow down; that October is still far away despite the Halloween candy on display.
Despite intentions, an overcast Monday combined with a dip in temperatures had me thinking about straddling the seasons. In an effort to pay homage to summer, I used summer corn in this hearty chowder that is a good first salute to fall.
The recipe for Corn and Sausage Chowder from the cookbook Thymes Remembered, published by the Junior League of Tallahassee, is the inspiration for this chowder. The original recipe has been a favorite in my family for years. It’s made with canned corn and often made its appearance in the winter months as a belly warming lunch or filling accompaniment to oyster roasts. In this version, fresh corn kernels lighten up the chowder (although be warned that “light” is a relative term when it comes to chowders), while the leftover cobs are put to use to make a delicious corn stock that really amps up the corn flavor.
I like the use of sausage here (especially if it’s chilly), but crawfish or lobster would also make a delicious and less-filling addition if you were so inclined. Shellfish certainly would be preferable if you are wanting to hang on to summer a bit longer. Happy cooking!
Summer Corn Chowder
This recipe, adapted from the recipe for “Corn and Sausage Chowder” in the Junior League of Tallahassee’s Thymes Remembered cookbook, has been a favorite of my family’s for years. Instead of canned corn, here I use kernels from fresh summer corn and turn leftover corncobs into a delicious corn stock that amps up the flavor of this hearty chowder.
6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
5 cups water
1 lb hot or mild pork sausage
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 lb (about 3 large) red boiling potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice
1 sprig of thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half and half
Cut the kernels off the ear of corn. I like to place the ear of corn in a pie plate for this step as it keeps the kernels from flying all over the place while cutting. Once all the kernels have been cut off the ear, use the back of the knife to rub the cob to “milk” it and get the flavorful juice from the corn. Set the kernels and any “milk” aside in a bowl.
Place the cobs in a large pot and cover with the 5 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Remove the corncobs from the stock and strain the stock, if desired. You should have at least 3 cups of corn stock. If you have less than 3 cups, simply add water to bring the amount of liquid to 3 cups.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, brown the sausage breaking it into pieces using a wooden spoon. Remove the sausage using a slotted spoon and set aside. If you have more than two tablespoons of fat in the pot discard any excess.
Add the chopped onion to the fat and cook, stirring, until soft. Return the browned sausage to the pot and add the corn, potatoes, 3 cups of corn stock, thyme sprig, salt and freshly ground black pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer and covering the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the half and half and heat the chowder until hot. Adjust the seasonings as needed, remove the thyme sprig and serve immediately.