Kicked Up Corn Chowder

Okay friends, do not let this long list of ingredients scare you away.  This corn chowder is absolutely scrumptious and so full of flavor.  However, to develop the full flavor you have to use every single ingredient.  This is one of those recipes you save for a lazy weekend.  But I have amazing news, this freezes so great.  So make a HUGE batch, portion it into containers, freeze some and save it for a weeknight when you need a quick meal.  Or make it on a Sunday afternoon, invite all your friends over and blow them away with your culinary skills. 

Ingredients:

  • 10 - 12 ears of corn (husk the corn, cut kernels off cob, save cobs for broth)
  • 14 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp  (peel and devein, save peels for broth)
  • 5 tablespoons of oil (split)
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (small diced)
  • 1 bunch green onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage links
  • 1 qt.  Half & half
  • 5 medium tomatoes (blanched, skinned and diced)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (remove stems and rough chop)
  • 3 tablespoons Fresco Pizza Blend
  • 3 tablespoons Fresco Creole
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons Fresco Blackening Blend
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Fresco Cajun Blackening
  • 3 tablespoons Fresco City Grill
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled, cut into 1” cubes)

This recipe is so much less daunting if you have your mise en place.  That is just a fancy french cooking term for having your stuff in it's place or being ready.  So start like this, pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, put on your favorite tunes and clean, peel and chop all your ingredients as specified above.  This step will make the rest of the cooking process so much smoother.  Allow yourself to relax and enjoy this step.  I find all the chopping quite therapeutic.

Now that you have your mise en place, start with a large stock pot.  Pour in all 14 cups of chicken broth.  Drop in the empty corn cobs and shrimp peels.  Bring to a low boil and allow to boil for 30 minutes.  After the stock has reduced for 30 minutes remove from heat, cover and set aside.

While your stock is boiling you can start cooking.  Get out a large skillet, put it over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons oil.  Saute the onions and bell peppers in the oil for 4-5 minutes or until the onions start to become translucent.  Next, add in the green onion and garlic sauteing for just another 2-3 minutes.  (you do not want to overcook the garlic)  Remove the skillet from the heat. 

Now back to your stock pot.  It should be time to strain out the cobs and peels.  Using a large bowl with a colander inside, pour the stock into the bowl allowing the colander to catch all the cobs and peels.  You can toss those out now.  Return the stock to the stock pot and put it over a medium/low heat.  Add in all the yummy stuff you just sauteed in your skillet along with the corn you cut off the cobs earlier as well as the chopped tomatoes.  Now comes seasoning, add the parsley as well as all the Fresco blends EXCEPT City Grill.  That one is coming soon.  Stir this all together and allow it to simmer while you move to the next step.

Put that skillet you used earlier back over a medium heat.  No need to clean it out.  We will just develop more flavor.  Add the sausage links and a tablespoon or so of oil.  Brown the sausage until nice and crispy.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Remove sausage to a cutting board and allow to cool.  Later, once cooled, chop into 1/2 inch slices.

While the sausage is cooling however, put that same skillet back on the stove over a little higher heat this time.  (Don't you just love how we keep using the same skillet?  Less dishes to do later!)  There should be some excess oil in the skillet but if not feel free to add another tablespoon.  Once the skillet is nice and hot drop in the shrimp.  Sprinkle with the Fresco City Grill.  (I told you it was coming up)  Shrimp cook FAST and can overcook making them rubbery very quickly so put your wine down for this one and watch them closely.  As soon as one side turns a nice pink flip them over and cook the second side.  They should only take a couple of minutes per side.  As soon as the shrimp look done pour in the half and half.  This will cool everything down a bit and slow the cooking.  Turn the heat down to simmer and go chop the sausage that has cooled and add that too into the skillet with the shrimp.  Allow that to simmer and come together for a few minutes while we go back to the stock.

The stock has been simmering now and developing flavor and should smell delicious already.  So time to turn up the heat and drop in the sweet potatoes.  We need to boil the potatoes to get them nice and aldente.  We do not want them mushy, so allow them to boil for 5-7 minutes.  Once they are fork tender, turn the heat back down to a simmer and we are in the home stretch.

Pour the contents of the skillet into the stock and stir bringing it all together.  Do not allow this to come up to a boil again as it will cause the half and half to break and separate.  Keep over a low heat and serve!  This chowder is hearty and perfect just as it is but also goes great with a big piece of fresh sourdough, something to mop up all the flavorful broth when you get to the bottom of your bowl.

Substitutions:  

You can make this recipe a little easier and quicker by using frozen corn and canned tomatoes without sacrificing too much of the flavor.  Use a 29 ounce can of diced tomatoes instead of blanching and peeling the fresh ones as well as 32 ounces of frozen corn.  This will also allow you to skip the step of boiling the cobs.   You can also omit the potatoes if you prefer or just use regular potatoes.

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