Enjoy the Harvest

Bacon and Corn ChowderThis delicious chowder is even better the next day. Add shrimp or crab for a seafood version and a generous dash of hot sauce for those who like a little spice in their life. Use a knife to slice corn from the cob. This recipe omits garlic, but if you love garlic, by all means, add it to the mix.

6 strips bacon

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 TBS flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups peeled, diced red potatoes

2 cups fresh corn, cut from cob

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

Minced chives or hot sauce, for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp. Drain and set aside. When cool, cut bacon into bite-sized pieces. Pour off all but 1 TBS bacon fat. Cook onion and celery in bacon fat 7 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in broth. Add potatoes, bring mixture to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add corn and cooked bacon. Simmer, covered, 7 minutes. Stir in milk and cream, bring mixture to a low simmer to heat through. Divide among soup bowls and garnish with chives or hot sauce.

Serves 4.

Gary: The cream offers richness to this chowder, the cream and corn deliver a hint of sweetness and the bacon adds a lovely salty richness. Look for whites with bright acidity to cleanse the palate between spoons of the soup and to enhance the bacon’s flavor. Sparkling wines and Champagnes are a great choice, as their firm acidity and bright flavors will make a lovely foil for this chowder. Verdejo from Spain would be delightful with its bright fruit and firm crispness, as would a dry Moscato if it offers acidity. An Albariño will shine, especially if you add seafood as an ingredient. Sauvignon Blanc in a less herbal style would be quite delectable, as found in Bordeaux when it is blended with Semillon. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio from the Lake Erie Region, northern Italy, Alsace and Oregon would also be delightful with this entrée. If you add heat, consider a softly dry Chenin Blanc/Vouvray or Riesling to help mellow the burn.

What to do with the Harvest Bounty

Whether you’ve planted a garden, shopped the farmers market or just brought home a basket of fresh fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, now is the time to enjoy the best of the harvest. Bountiful this time of year from farms all across the country are blackberries and blueberries, carrots, squash, red onions, new potatoes, cabbage, leeks, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, spinach, tomatoes and sweet corn.

When berries are at their peak and priced right, eat some and freeze the rest for smoothies and pies during the winter months. When trimming broccoli, freeze the stalks for a comforting fall soup. Carrots and cauliflower can also be frozen to enjoy later. Cooked mushrooms and blanched tomatoes keep well in the freezer and can be added to sauces and soups.

Gary:  While fruits and vegetables are not usually considered a focus to pair with wine, thinking out of the box can provide many wonderful food and wine pairings that classic reasoning just might miss. Remember that many fruits have sweetness that can be echoed by the wine while vegetables can have pungent or astringent characters that are balanced by acidity. Don’t let those qualities concern you; simply think about the main flavors and characters of the entrée, then try different wines to see what works. Look at the basic styles suggested and substitute your favorite brand. You just might come up with a new favorite combination.

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