This chowder makes a quick and delicious summer dinner. It's full of fresh summer vegetables, crab, herbs from the garden and a bit of Pernod to round out the flavor.
This is when the vegetable garden really goes into high gear, and yields a daily harvest of pattypan squash, zucchini, scallions, herbs of all kinds, green beans, and (almost) tomatoes. We are able to buy good early corn; I think Vermont has the best sweet corn anywhere, and this is a very good year for it.
Each day after work, we gather what is ripe and interesting, which changes daily. I have some Thai basil which is almost ready to start using. When that happens, we will probably have Vietnamese soups for a month. But right now, with the beautiful sweet corn, mild summer onions, lemon grass, and pattypans, my mind turns to Chowder.
Perhaps Chowder is a misnomer for this stew. It's very lightly-cooked, and the vegetables still have some crispness. It's not thickened, except by corn puree. It's flavored with fresh herbs and Pernod, which I love with corn. While this is Very non-traditional for New England corn chowder, I think you'll like it.
Corn and Crab Chowder
2 large ears sweet corn (about 2 cups cut from the cob)
1 cup thin-sliced pattypan squash
1 cup coarsely chopped Vidalia onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2 T butter
1 cup half&half, or light cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground fennel
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp very thinly-sliced lemon grass leaves
2 T Pernod
Crab leg meat baby pattypans for garnish
1/4 c fresh basil leaves (optional, for garnish)
1. Get the garnishes ready: Heat the crab meat, cover and set aside. Steam the baby pattypans until tender-crisp, cover and set aside.
2. Cut the corn from the cobs. Take half of the corn and pulse in the food processor until very finely chopped. Put the other half of the corn (whole kernels) aside in a separate bowl.
3. Sizzle the butter in a large, non-reactive pot. Quickly add the Vidalia onions and pattypan slices, stir for 30 seconds. Add the cream, stock, paprika, fennel, thyme, and lemon grass, and bring to strong simmer. Immediately add the diced red bell pepper, corn puree and whole kernels. Simmer for 30 seconds.
4. Add the milk and bring back to a strong simmer. Add the cooked crab garnish and submerge slightly to coat. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in the Pernod, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve Immediately! Garnish with the baby pattypans, crab, and optional fresh basil leaves.