Corn is a true southern staple and we are inundated with heaps of tantalizing ears of yellow [or white] goodness at this time of year. It one of the cheapest veggies you can buy and there is nothing better for me than a great bowl of corn chowder. The recipe for a delicious corn and potato chowder is extremely simple and you can make almost any additions to suit a large variety of tastes.
I start with four ears of corn straight from your local farmers market or grocery store. Remove the kernels in a tall sided bowl [those kernels will fly all over the kitchen if you try to do it on the countertop or cutting board]. Keep at least one of the cobs and place all the corn and the cob in a medium size pot of chicken or vegetable broth. The cobs will add even more of the good corn starchiness to your meal. I add a tablespoon of bacon grease [vegetarians can delete this], two tablespoons of diced onion and a whole clove of garlic, both of the latter will slowly dissolve as you simmer the corn for 40 to 45 minutes in a covered pot [after bringing to a boil]. Use salt and pepper to taste [I love lots of pepper] and a healthy dose of crushed red pepper flakes. Remove the pot lid after 20 minutes and let the liquid reduce.
While your corn is simmering, prepare your other ingredients. Dice up red bell pepper which adds another layer of good sweetness as well as a splash of color [go ahead and add to your simmering corn]. In a separate pot, cut up two medium size potatoes and cook to tenderness in salted water. Set aside several of your larger potato chunks. Add your potatoes and a little of the starchy potato water to your corn while removing the cobs. At this time, you can also add a tablespoon of butter and a little milk [if you want a creamier broth, mix a little corn starch into the milk before adding]. Mash the potato chunks you set aside with a spoon and return to your corn as an additional thickener and let simmer for five more minutes.
Your basic corn and potato chowder dish is ready to serve but there are even more things you can do with this versatile recipe. If you want protein, this chowder is perfect with shredded, cooked chicken [any leftovers are good for this] as well as shrimp, which cook to a nice pinkness in just a few minutes once you add them to the pot. Garnish your corn/potato chowder with some fresh chopped parsley, diced tomatoes and shredded basil, which add color and good flavors. Chopped bacon is a delectable garnish as well. Depending on what you add, this can be a nice side dish or an entrée. This chowder is also good when served cool on a hot summer day and it freezes very well if you want to make larger batches.