Crawfish Corn Chowder

crawfish

 

The weather here in Alabama has been unusually cold lately, with temps in the low teens and snow and ice. You may have experienced it, or seen on the national news, how the people in the south can’t deal with the winter weather, because we usually have temps in the 60’s on Christmas day. I’ve also been working a lot lately, especially with catered events, so it was extremely welcoming to come home after a long weekend of catering, on a cold night and find a pot of this delicious chowder cooking on the stove. If you love crawfish you should give this a try. Crawfish tails can be purchased at most supermarkets in the South. Around here, Publix carries them in the freezer section of their seafood department for about $12 a pound. It’s also a little spicy with the poblano pepper, so if you prefer your food a little less “warm” you may want to substitute a jalapeno for the poblano. The recipe has a list of ingredients, but it’s extremely easy to put together.

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups diced onion, preferably a sweet onion like a Vidalia
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped poblano pepper, seeded and ribs removed
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
  • 1 quart seafood stock (can be bought at your grocery store)
  • 1-16oz bag of frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 small potatoes, diced into small cubes
  • 1-15oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1-8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 pound crawfish tails, thawed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning (a blend sold on the spice aisle)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the oil and the butter, letting the butter melt. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, until the onions and celery are tender. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and stock, whisking to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the corn, potatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, crawfish, bay leaves, thyme, salt, Cajun seasoning and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the cream and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the heat; discard the bay leaves and add the fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with a good crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. Makes about 10 servings.

 

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Heirloom Tomato & Grilled Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Here’s a great recipe using some of the fresh vegetables available these days! Nothing like the taste of roasted corn and fresh heirloom tomatoes to scream SUMMER!

  • 3 tbsp champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 ears of fresh corn in husks
  • 1 1/4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 10oz container of small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

In a glass mixing boil, whisk together the vinegar and garlic. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly to incorporate, then add the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fill a large bowl with water. Mix in 1 tsp sea salt. Add the corn and soak for 1 hour.

Prepare your barbecue or gas grill (medium-high heat). Drain the corn. Grill the corn in the husks until the outside is very charred and the corn kernels are tender, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Cool the corn. Remove the husks and cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Corn & Zucchini Salad

Summer is finally here and for us, that means a lot of time spent at the lake where we dine al fresco on the pier with friends. My normal contribution to the meal is a composed salad of some sort, be it pasta salad, potato salad (check out Bacon Parmesan Potato Salad in the blog archives, redneck caviar (Hoppin’ John Salad in the archives) or homemade salsa. I haven’t made corn and zucchini salad in a couple of summers but now that fresh corn is cheap and plentiful, it will be on a future menu at the lake.

This recipe can be made with raw corn, like many corn salad recipes are, but I like the corn a little more tender and a little less starchy. That’s why I blanch the corn. Canned corn is over-cooked, and while it will work if you need a quick salad for a last minute party, it won’t be as fresh tasting. You can also used grilled corn for a smokier flavored salad (perfect with BBQ), and you can change the whole flavor profile from southwestern to Italian simply by using fresh chopped basil instead of fresh chopped cilantro!

  • 5 ears of fresh corn, shucked
  • 2 cups zucchini chopped into a small dice or quartered lengthwise and then sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (for southwestern style) or chopped basil leaves (for Italian style)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stovetop and cook the corn for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and then immerse the corn into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Once the corn has cooled enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob into a large bowl.

Add to the corn, the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The longer it marinates in the refrigerator, the better it will taste, so you can make it an hour before eating, or make it the day before.

 

Chicken Supreme over Low Country Cheese Grits

Several years back when I represented Bruno’s Supermarkets, I participated in the “Taste of the Summit” food exhibition at The Summit shopping center in Birmingham. This elegant take on a southern favorite, creamed chicken and grits, was my featured recipe for the event. I also cooked this one on Good Day Alabama’s morning cooking segment in 2002. In this recipe, I take a few fresh ingredients that are everywhere in the south come summer time and incorporate them into the dish. The “grits recipe” is the same recipe I use with I make “shrimp and grits”.

For Chicken Supreme:

  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 # boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, diced (or you can skip this step and pick up 1 rotisserie chicken at the grocery store and remove the meat from the bones)
  • 2 cups fresh corn (removed from the cob)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thyme leaves

In a small sauce pan, combine the corn and milk and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Drain corn, reserving the milk.

Cook the bacon in a skillet until brown and crispy. Remove bacon and reserve. In bacon grease, cook the chicken until done (5-6 minutes) and remove from the pan. To the bacon grease, add the butter and flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, then add the warm milk you cooked the corn in and the heavy cream. Cook, stirring quite often, until mixture thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and toss in the chicken and cooked corn.

Serve chicken over a bowl of cheese grits. Top the creamed chicken with crumbled bacon, cherry tomatoes and fresh thyme leaves.

Low Country Cheese Grits:

  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup grits (quick cook are best, but NOT INSTANT)
  • 1 cup Mexican or Taco Blend shredded cheese

In a stock pot, cook the bacon until brown and remove bacon from the pot. To the bacon grease add the chicken stock and cream and heat until just boiling. With liquid starting to boil, whisk in the grits and cook, whisking constantly, for 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to let the grits “bubble” on your hand as the boiling grits have the consistency and temperature of LAVA.

Remove grits from the heat and whisk in the cheese. Add the crumbled bacon to the cooked grits.