Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bacon Makes It Better Corn Chowder

with Tomato and Ricotta Salata Salad

From Rachael Ray: 365 No Repeats

1 quart chicken stock or broth
4 ears fresh corn, shucked
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 dashes hot sauce
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 rounded Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
20 fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 C 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 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
6oz ricotta salata, crumbled (found in specialty cheese case)

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 8-10 minutes, to get every little bit of corn flavor for your chowder. (Cut 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 2-3 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 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 8-10 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 bacon pieces and oyster crackers. Serve the tomato ricotta salata salad with some crusty bread alongside.

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