Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Long, hot summer

In 1985, Don Johnson and Cybil Shepard starred in the made for television remake of a 1958 movie classic, Long, Hot Summer. The only thing it had going for it was that the title was factual within the times: That was indeed a very long, hot, summer. I was very young at the time, not of an age to remember when the movie had truly been done well by fine people like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The remake was the kind of movie where the title sticks with you for practical purposes as an accurate descriptive, everything else was forgettable. That turn of phrase always returns to me on days when the hot, heavy air seems to stick to my shoulders.

Sometime after that I found a perfect recipe for a late summer scorcher (or long hot summer night) in, say, our gorgeous North Salem, where on the steamiest of days, the gray mist of humidity rises from the rolling verdant hills of our native ground.

Though, one might be disinclined to make a soup and even more so a chowder on an evening of this caliber, one would sadly miss the quick strike of heat at the end of every spoonful and the spice and silky creaminess that makes life and soup worth tasting. I have always been a fan of heat in my food when the temperature rises. When you make this soup, with any luck, someone will give you a glass of good rioja or a Guiness and all will be right with your world for one sizzling, hopefully lingering, summer evening.

Disclaimer: I believed this old scribbled recipe to have originally been published in Bon Appetit though I cannot locate any sign of it. In any event, I also believe it was the work of a restaurant in Colorado in it's original form. If indeed the reference does emerge, credit will be given herein.

Spicy Corn and Sausage Chowder
Serves 8

Originally, I made this recipe with spicy pork sausage which was divine. Also, canned summer corn and used only cream. I have lightened the recipe over time but certainly you can return to the original ingredients with slightly thicker and more oily results.

3 tbls olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound spicy chicken sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano, preferably fresh
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup sweet summer corn from two ears
1 1/2 cup potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream

In a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and heat until glistening. Add the onion and cook just until translucent. Add red and green peppers and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add crumbled sausage and cook another ten minutes or until the meat is cooked completely. Add cumin, oregano, bay leaves, cayenne, and Tabasco. Stir to combine evenly.
Reduce the heat to low and into the pot add the chicken stock and water. Cook until it is gently simmering away. Add the corn and potatoes and cook for seven minutes or until the potatoes are softened and cooked through.

Add the milk and cream and allow to remain on the heat a few minutes more until completely heated through. Serve with crusty bread, sourdough is my preference.

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