Photo: Courtesy of The Oregonian.
Nebraska Sweet Corn and Clam Chowder
We're not entirely sure this chowder accurately represents the growing chasm between a son and his mentally ill father and the aching fragility of a squandered life. That said, we'd eat it.Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped finely, plus 2 yellow onions, cut into medium dice
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup medium-diced celery (about 3 ribs)
1/8 tsp cayenne, or more, to taste
1 herb sachet (see note)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
1/2 cup bacon lardons (see note)
Fresh tarragon, finely chopped, for serving
1. In a medium-sized stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the finely chopped small onion, bay leaf, and thyme. Season with salt, stir, and cook for five minutes.
2. Add the white wine and clams. Steam until the clams open, five to seven minutes, depending on their size. Drain and reserve the liquid. Clean the clams by removing from shells and squeezing them, and then rough chop the clams. Chill until ready to continue.
3. Place the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the celery and the medium-diced onion. Sweat over medium heat until tender, six to eight minutes. Season with salt and cayenne, to taste. Add the herb sachet. Add the flour, and coat the vegetables. Deglaze the pan by adding the reserved clam juice and scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until reduced by half, six to 10 minutes.
4. Add the corn, reserved clams, and heavy cream. Bring to a simmer, and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Taste, and season with salt. Remove and discard the herb sachet. Remove chowder from the heat, and set aside.
5. In a separate medium-sized pot, parboil the potatoes: Place them in four to six cups of cold, salted water, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, cook for two to three minutes. Drain, and add to the chowder.
6. Heat the chowder to a simmer. Serve garnished with the bacon lardons and chopped tarragon.
Note: To make a fresh herb sachet, place two fresh or dried bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme in a piece of cheesecloth, and secure it closed with a piece of cooking twine.
To make bacon lardons, buy slab bacon or thick-cut bacon, slice into half-inch strips, and cut into cubes. Cook in a small sauté pan over medium heat with a few drops of olive oil until the fat renders off and the bacon is just crisp, six to eight minutes. Remove from the pan, and drain the fat on a paper-towel-lined plate.Recipe: Courtesy of The Oregonian