Monday, December 31, 2012

Back To The Forgotten Art - An Intermediate Recipe For Kitchen Domination

There's one thing to be said about a can-opener reliant crockpot meal...

It's simple.

To the bane of greater taste, recipes designed to simplify the home kitchen have gained popularity in recent years. Not only for their ease on the shopping budget, relying on off-the-frozen-store-shelf ingredients, but for their five-minute prep time. I understand this- I have two children of my own under the age of six. Dumping a can of corn, some meat browned in olive oil, a dash of garlic salt, and frozen-chopped peppers in a slow cooker has its appeal. But it lacks that next layer of flavor we all wish we could appreciate. What happened to the art of caramelizing? Where have the joys of the sauté gone? My gods, does anyone even know how to julienne anymore?

Think of our ancestors- cavemen spending countless hours perfecting rotisserie carrion. Imagine the ancient Greeks finessing a slow-cooking, but labor intensive technique for steaming meats in grape leaves. Open a book once in a while and read how the American pioneers smoked bison over peat fires. How proud would our DNA refiners be to learn we traded scrumptious natural flavoring for high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and microwaves?

Shame on us.


The new year is upon us, and what better time to reflect on short-cuts taken and remind ourselves of the benefits gained from worthy dining experiences. A home cook doesn't need to be a French culinary graduate, but simply dedicated to time management and attention to detail. Herein lies the quandary- shave a few bucks off the grocery bill and spend more time in front of the TV, or, dedicate ourselves to introducing great flavor back into our repertoire if only a few nights a week.

To help reach this ever-so delicate plateau, I suggest the home cook step up to the plate and focus on the task at hand - making greater tasting food with only a little more cost, and a bit more time. To facilitate this aim, I present for you below a winter masterpiece, Scallop and Corn Chowder.

Yes, there will be bacon.

Scallop And Corn Chowder
Prep/Cooking Time 60 mins, Serves 4

5 Slices of Bacon
1 1/2 lbs Sea Scallops
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 small yellow onion, sliced into thin half- moons
1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut to 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Fry the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate and set aside. You should have about 2 Tbs of drippings remaining. If not, supplement with olive oil. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry with paper towels. Season them with the salt and pepper. Increase the heat on your skillet to medium-high. Add some of the scallops to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Sear until golden brown on each side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining scallops. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion slivers to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, wine, broth, and cream. Bring to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the scallops and corn and cook an additional 4 minutes.

To serve, ladle the chowder into bowls and sprinkle with parsley and crumbled bacon. Serve with a great bakery or homemade bread.

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