Sunday, January 23, 2011

Corn Chowder with Pico De Gallo

The end of the weekend has always perplexed me. The sudden realization that the fun is over and we have to get back into routine creates an innate need for a box of cereal and milk in front of Sunday night TV which is what I did in my pre-kid days. But now, that’s not terribly responsible or healthy so I find myself looking for better examples of Sunday night comfort. Soup always seems to fit the bill and though I had thought about tortilla soup, I would have had to buy several things to make it. My goal with “Cook What You’ve Got” is to be a shining example of how keeping a stocked kitchen can provide you with unending creativity and yummy dinners so that would not work at all to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients.

Knowing I had a full bag of frozen corn in my freezer, a corn chowder made sense so I headed off to the kitchen armed with Rick Bayless’ Corn and Chicken Chowder recipe as a jumping off point. After browsing through my pantry, I created this recipe that strikes a balance between a classic chowder with bacon and the Chef Bayless’ version. We topped it with pico de gallo, avocado, a drizzle of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of feta cheese.
CWYG Items:  frozen corn, canned diced green chiles, milk, cornstarch, onion, garlic, shallot, diced tomatoes, yogurt, feta, bacon, olive oil
Seasonal/Other Items: cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno avocado
Corn Chowder with Pico De Gallo

2 slices of bacon, sliced ½” pieces
½ tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-oz pkg frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 cups of milk
1 can of diced mild green chiles
Pico de Gallo
½ 14-oz can of diced tomatoes, drained well
½ shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime or 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Prepare the pico first. Mix all ingredients together and let sit in fridge until ready to serve. (This can be done well in advance and will taste better the longer it sits.)

For the chowder. Cook the bacon in the olive oil in large saucepan until brown and cooked through. Remove and drain leaving behind as much of the bacon fat as possible. Saute onion in the bacon drippings until translucent, but not browning. Add garlic and frozen corn. Cook for a minute or two.

Remove 2/3 of the mixture to a blender container and add the cornstarch and 2 cups of milk. Blend thoroughly then pour back in pan with remaining corn mixture. Add the green chiles and milk. Turn heat to medium and cook until the chowder is bubbling around the edges and thickened. Top each serving with pico de gallo, chopped avocado and a drizzle of yogurt.

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