Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Scallop Corn Chowder

Since I seem to be afflicted with some sort of culinary spring fever, I was of course craving corn today. Lovely, sweet corn, just the kind of thing that is completely out of season in February. However, when I found two tiny ears of corn, with kernels that sparkled like tiny pearls, I thought it was worth a shot.

This thick chowder is all about a melding of pure tastes--the slightly metallic scallops, tasting like butter and saltwater; the cool, crisp corn kernels; the salty, crunchy bacon; the tender nuggets of potato--it all comes together in a most satisfying way.

The quality of your scallops is important here, since they do dominate the flavor of the chowder. I bought bay scallops, because they looked and smelled freshest, but I have made this with sea scallops to good effect as well. Serve this chowder with some crusty bread alongside, because you will want to sop up every golden drop.

Scallop Corn Chowder
serves 2-3

3 slices thick bacon, diced
.75 lb. scallops, patted dry
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in a .5 inch dice
.5 cup dry white wine
.5 cup stock (chicken, vegetable, or seafood)
.25 cup heavy cream
.5 Tbsp butter
kernels from 2 small ears of corn
fresh parsely for garnish

In a deep saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat, until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. You should have at least a Tbsp of drippings, add olive oil if necessary. Season scallops with salt and pepper--increase heat to medium-high, and saute until golden brown (the time really depends on the size scallop you are using, so just keep an eye on the little buggers). Transfer scallops to a plate.

Add the shallot to the drippings in the skillet and cook until translucent. Add potatoes, wine, broth, and cream, cover partially, and simmer gently until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Add the scallops, corn and butter and simmer uncovered, for 4 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then ladle into bowls. Serve topped with crumbled bacon and parsely (and some crusty bread--trust me).

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