I always amazes me that something so simple can become something so, well, delicious.
Take the lowly potato. It was first cultivated by the Incas high in the Andes Mountains of Peru about 7000 years ago. Europeans did not encounter the potato until about 1537 when the Conquistadors came to the new world. It was another 150 years or so until Europeans actually started to use it as a food. Even then, it was only lower class food.
Today there are 1000s of varieties in the Andes today.
Corn was first cultivated by the Native Americans. Some 7000 years ago the people living in Central Mexico developed corn. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte and looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food. Boiled, corn on the cob, creamed. It has become a staple side dish of modern Americans.
We can go back even further for Shrimp and other shellfish. Shrimp have been around since at least the Jurassic (@200 – 150 million years). Man has been eating shellfish since he learned to catch them by hand more than 1 million years ago. Piles of oyster shells have been found worldwide. Although harder to harvest , early man ate anything he could – as long as it didn’t eat him first. In the South seafood is a staple. Shrimp is just one seafood we eat by the ton.
So what is the point of all this
These three ingredients combine to create a luscious, thick, spicy ‘soup’ called chowder.More specifically Shrimp and Corn Chowder
1 lb of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cans of Green Giant creamed corn
2 cans of Green Giant niblet corn
2 lbs. of peeled shirmp (about 4 pounds total)
1 pint of half and half
1/2 pint of heavy cream
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1tbspoon Oregeno, Garlic (diced), and Basil
milk (see below)
salt and pepper
1. In large heavy pot, fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon to drain.
2. Saute’ chopped onions and green pepper in bacon grease until soft with Garlic and herbs
3. Add the cubed potatoes and cover with water an inch above the potatoes. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer over medium heat until potatoes are fork tender.
4. Remove pot from heat and mash potatoes thoroughly.
5. Add all the corn, half and half and heavy cream. Stir to blend well. Next, add enough milk so that the soup (quasi-chowder) is the consistency you want. Some like it thin, I like mine a little thicker.
6. Add salt black pepper to taste and 1 tsp of cayenne pepper and return pot to medium heat on the stove.
7. Stirring constantly to avoid scorching, bring mixture to a simmer, but do not let it boil (it will be time to reduce the heat when you see small bubbles rising up to the top of the creamy mixture). Reduce heat to low temperature and continue simmering for 15-20 minutes.
8. Add shrimp and parsley; stir mixture well. Allow soup to simmer on low heat until the shrimp are done (6-10 minutes max).
You can substitute crawfish for shrimp but be aware that crawfish are already cooked and will take less time to heat. One variation that my wife likes is to crumble the bacon back into the pot when you add the salt and pepper. It sure doesn’t hurt anything.
Heat your french bread until crispy (275 for about 8-10 minutes or higher for less).
Thanks for collegue Chris Stacey for this one. It is an incredible ‘comfort food’.