Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22: Bacon-Makes-It-Better Corn Chowder with Tomato and Ricotta Salata Salad

1 quart chicken stock or broth
4 ears of fresh corn, shucked
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
20 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
2 tablespoons all-pupose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 seedless cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced into half-moons
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
6 ounces ricotta salata, or feta cheese, crumbled
   Oyster crackers, for the chowda
   Crusty bread, to pass at the table

Place the chicken stock in a large pot over high heat; bring it to a boil while you prepare the corn. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs.

Add the cobs to the stock and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, to get every little bit of corn flavor in your chowder. (Cut the cobs in pieces if necessary to submerge them entirely.)

Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO. Add the chopped bacon and cook until crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the crispy bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel and reserve.

Return the pot to the heat and add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the yellow onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes, or until the onions are starting to brown.

While the onions cook, in a small bowl combine the Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of EVOO, then stir in the basil and reserve.

Add the reserved corn kernels to the onions in the soup pot and cook for 2 minutes.

Dust the onions and corn kernels with the flour and cook for 1 minute more. Remove and discard the simmered cobs from the boiling stock. Whisk the hot stock into the onions and corn several ladlefuls at a time until incorporated. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, in a large bowl combine the red onions, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and crumbled ricotta salata cheese. Pour the reserved dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season the salad with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup garnished with lots of the crispy bacon pieces and oyster crackers. Serve the tomato ricotta salata salad with some crusty bread alongside.


This meal takes a little longer than 30 minutes, but it's well worth the wait. This was perfect for Sunday afternoon. The chowder was sweet and very tasty; the thyme added a nice flavor. And the bacon definitely did make it better! The salad was really good! I can't get ricotta salata cheese here, so I changed the recipe that you could also use feta. I got tomato basil flavored feta, and it was perfect for this salad.

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