Next month, my youngest sister Kirsti and her husband Ryan are visiting from the mainland, and we can’t wait to show them all (the food) Hawaii has to offer. We want them to have an authentic experience, and though we’ll probably never be local, we know a trip to Oahu isn’t complete without a romp around the North Shore. We make this drive every single time we have visitors, and—when our weeks are feeling particularly stifling—the following weekend too. The drive’s filled with gorgeous vista after gorgeous vista, and the highway’s lined with different food stands, most advertising the best garlic shrimp on the North Shore. You could stop anywhere and make a wonderful day of it right there, but, if you’re like us, the appeal is in following your whim—and that’s usually to the first, second, and third shrimp truck.
We were having such a day a few weeks ago and stopped at a truck we’d never visited before. With poodles in tow, we shared a basket of coconut shrimp across the road from a small wooden stand selling Kahuku corn. Kahuku is known first for its shrimp, but the sweet corn certainly deserves an honorable mention. We bought a bag before heading to Waimea Bay for what turned into a fairly disastrous poodle swimming lesson. Luna, if you’re reading this, we’re sorry. It’s funny because she’s a dog.
Once home, I let Micah and Kyle offer suggestions about what do with the corn, but I already knew the perfect avenue to showcase the sweet flavor and freshness: Corn Chowder. If those who love me respect my wishes, my tombstone will either read “Gurl loved her some chowder” or “Sexy Lottery Winner Probably Still Alive.” To be clear, the chowders I love are New-England style with lots of cream, potato, and celery. I don’t really care what you put in it as long as it pairs with a biscuit; corn chowder is near the top of my list though. You can easily make it vegetarian, but I like the addition of bacon because . . . bacon. As long as you respect the beauty of the mirepoix (celery, onion, and carrot) as a flavor starter, bacon or no, you’ll be fine.
This particular batch makes a heap of soup, enough to eat that night and freeze an additional quart for a later easy weeknight dinner. Or, if you’re feeding a crowd, whip up a double batch of Kyle’s cheddar and chive biscuits. Either way, soup’s on! (“I thought they were shish kabobs”).
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 oz bacon, chopped
- For the mirepoix, one cup each:
- Celery, chopped
- Carrots, chopped
- Yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 7 small ears of corn, or corn kernels totaling 3-4 cups
- 4 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups homemade chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 5-6 thyme sprigs, bundled together with twine
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add butter and oil to a large pot or dutch over medium heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add bacon and cook until lightly crisp. Remove bacon pieces and set aside.
- Add the celery, onion, and carrots for the mirepoix and cook for approximately five minutes, until ingredients have softened.
- Add the garlic, bell pepper, and corn kernels and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until the corn is cooked and everything else has softened.
- Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute, removing the flour’s rawness. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking continuously. It should thicken considerably.
- Whisk in the milk and cream. Bring mixture to a light boil. Turn the heat down, and then add the potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper.
- Keep the heat on low and cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until potatoes have softened sufficiently.
- Before serving, remove the thyme leaf bundle and stir in reserved bacon pieces.