What's Cooking? Getting corny in the kitchen with Pete Marczyk

Because there's no such thing as too much bacon, and because Pete Marcyzk's Bacon Candy was snapped up and chewed down in record speed, we've also got a great corn chowder (corn takes the place of clams) and bacon recipe that's perfect for the chilly nights ahead.

"Let's face it," says Pete. "The basis of any good chowder is pork." This recipe is adapted from his family's recipe for New England s clam chowder, and is a great way to use leftover corn. "I'm using some left over, some fresh," explains Pete. "Our thickener is going to be cornpone."

Corn Chowder

Salt pork, cut into ½-inch pieces 3 cloves garlic, peeled and slivered 1 large white onion, peeled, sliced and diced 4 large russet potatoes, diced 4 ears fresh, raw corn (Munson Farms corn is preferred) 4 ears day-old corn, already cooked 1 pint cream Thyme Salt and pepper to taste

1) In a skillet, render diced salt pork (which is made from back fat, and is cured about the same way as bacon except that it's not smoked). Add garlic. When the garlic is barely brown, take it out of the skillet and let the salt pork continue to crisp. When the salt pork is golden brown, remove and reserve for garnish, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Sweat the onions in the pork fat - do not brown. "You want a chowder unfettered by brown stuff," Pete explains. "It should be done over low heat, slowly. You have to be patient with it."

2) Dice the potatoes into even, half-inch cubes. "I'm a freak about potatoes and onions in chowder," Pete advises. "I feel they should be diced, and in a classic dice." That way, everything will cook evenly. After the potatoes are diced, soak the pieces in water to keep them from turning black and to take off the starch for a "nicer, fluffier, kinder, gentler chowder."

3) Score the kernels of the raw corn so you don't get the husk, just all the "sweet goodness" of the hull. Cut the kernels off the four cooked ears (making sure not to cut into the cob). Put the cobs in water (with a little salt) to make stock.

4) Put the potatoes, corn and onions in the fat. Add stock, salt and pepper to taste. "Now this chowder's job is to cook until the potatoes are done," Pete says. When they are, add a pint of cream. "By cooking it gently, there's less probability of it breaking," Pete explains. "It's thin enough to be delicious, thick enough to serve."

5) Serve garnished with pepper, thyme tips and the salt pork crisps.

Come back here later for Pete's Corn Chowder and Carbonara recipes; in the meantime, you'll find plenty of food for thought on the Marczyk Fine Foods website.
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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson