Monday, December 17, 2012

One Great . . . freezer corn chowder

When you're raising kids, you never know what will stick with them. The goofy stuff you say that they parrot back at you years later, the cookies you thought tasted terrible but they tell all their friends about. The comfort food recipe that ends up being a favorite. 

The grown man who used to be my little kid came home from college with a list of things he wanted me to make. Food in the "caf" on campus isn't all it's cracked up to be, apparently. One he asked for was corn and potato chowder.

Heavily adapted from the book "Desperation Dinners," by Alicia Ross and Beverly Mills, it was in regular rotation when he was growing up for many reasons: It was fast, it was cheap, it was made from stuff you can always have in the freezer. And it could be adapted to anything from chicken sausage to shrimp to leftover grilled chicken. 

We had already decided to make it Friday when the news turned horrible and my heart was with other people's children. I was so glad he had asked for it. It was the perfect thing to make while tall man who used to be my little kid took on the job of decorating the tree. 

We were all comforted. A little, at least.

Corn and Potato Chowder
I've changed this a lot from the original version in "Desperation Dinners." But it's very forgiving if you want to change more. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 to 2 cups diced cooked chicken or ham or half-moons of chicken sausage (if using; see note)
2 cups (or a couple of big handfuls) frozen cubed hash browns
1 tablespoon seasoning mix (see note)
3 cups chicken broth (or 2 14.5-ounce cans)
3 to 4 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup low-fan milk or half-and-half

HEAT the olive oil in a Dutch oven or 4- to 6-quart pot. Add the onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until just starting to soften. If you're using chicken, ham or sausage, stir it in and cook a couple of minutes longer. (If you're adding seafood, wait and add it at the end so it doesn't overcook.) Add the frozen hash browns and seasoning mix and cook until the potatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan a little. 

ADD half the broth and stir, scraping up anything that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth, the corn, the Worcestershire and the hot sauce. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the milk or half-and-half. Cook just until heated through. Serve.

NOTE: For the seasoning mix, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon marjoram. Frankly, I rarely measure any of it, just toss in pinches. I sometimes substitute a squirt of Dijon mustard for dry mustard.

YIELD: About 6 servings. 


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to try this--sounds delicious.