Monday, September 14, 2009

Corn Soup and While I'm At It, Deathmatch Grow! Kill! Forage! Revisited

This recipe was published last year in Maine Home & Design to accompany their feature on Deathmatch: Grow! Kill! Forage! It was probably the most challenging theme we've had, as every ingredient you used had to be grown, killed, or foraged by the chef, or you had to know the person who did. We had to go so far as to make our own salt, and never did figure out where the fuck to get any black pepper (short of going to India). As far as booze went, you had to personally know the winemaker or brewmaster to open it at the party.

This Deathmatch, although a great party, definitely encountered a lot of problems:

1. Too many people, several being uninvited.
2. For the first and only time, there was a shortage of food. This was partly because of too many collaberations - we had 14 chefs but only about 7 courses due to the challenge of the theme.
3. A wildly ambitious menu printing concept that never happened.
4. I found out that a full keg of hard cider is more cider than anyone would ever, ever need.
5. We killed the fucking microwave by rendering leaf lard in it for 4 hours.
6. 2 courses failed, which had never happened.

Positive things about it:

1. We rented wine glasses and tables. You can get perfectly adequate wine stems from one stop party shop for 55 cents apiece. Much better than destroying your own stemware.
2. We filled the bed of a pickup truck with ice and booze. Thanks Josh.
3. We made Nick the official Deathmatch Sommelier. His "reserve corner" around the other side of the house was a big success.
4. Lots of pretty girls.

5. Potocki's green butter.
6. The party was largely outdoors, sparing the house the kind of epic damage it recieved from "Last Meal."
7. Never at any point was I in my underwear squrting hot mayo in anyone's mouth.

For more info, check out John Dennison's reportage of the glorious event, with pics and lists of ingredients and beverages here

Anyway, this was what I came up with for the party - I've modified it to the version I made last night, without the restrictions of the theme.

Corn Soup with Candied Bacon and Chives

1 Tbl. Olive Oil
1 Small White Onion, Diced
2 Shallots, Diced
5 Garlic Cloves, peeled
3 Fresh Chilis - Preferably Cherry Peppers, Sliced
3 Cups Fresh Corn Kernels (About 6 Ears - Get your lazy ass out of bed early on saturday morning and go get it, and most of the other ingredients, at the farmer's market)
1 lb. of the Bacon they sell at Rosemont Bakery.
Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 Quart Whole Milk
1 1/12 Tbl. Ancho Chili Powder (we dried and smoked our own chilis - it's worth it)
1/2 Stick Butter or more........
Salt + Pepper
Chives, chopped for garnish
Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
1. Make the candied bacon. Lay all of the strips on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle each with brown sugar and bake until golden and crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain and chop up. You'll probably eat most of it before the soup's done.
2. Heat half of the oil and butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add Half Of the onion, shallots, and garlic and cook for 4 minutes.. Then add Half Of the corn and fresh chilis and cook for 3 minutes more - stirring frequently. Transfer contents of the pan into the food processor and add 1 cup of the milk. Process to a smooth puree. Now pour the puree through a mesh strainer to remove the skins of the corn (I like to use the back of a ladle to work it through). Repeat this step with the other half of the onion, garlic, shallots, corn, and chilis.
3. Return the pan to medium heat and pour the puree in, whisking frequently as it comes to a simmer. Be careful not to burn it at this point like I often do. Stir in the remaining milk, as well as the smoked chili powder, and simmer for a few minutes more. Add the cream, taking care the soup doesn't get too hot or it will break. Season with salt (I like alot of it but maybe that's why I have such high blood pressure) and pepper. Garnish with the candied bacon and chives. Serve.

Note: All soups get better overnight - and candied bacon is good for everything.

photos by Irvin Serrano or Jon Leavitt or John Dennison (I can't remember)


  1. Oh, I loved that soup so much. Yum yum yum.

    I also personally broke a wineglass by attempting to balance it on the hood of the truck. Not a good idea, for the record.

    I'll give you a call soon about Sat.

  2. This is an outstanding idea. Thanks for reminding me of this excellent use of all this damn corn I was given yesterday.

    Incidentally, photos of beverages on ice and home-smoked anchos are by John Dennison (johnnyd)

  3. Joe, you are in the New York Times! You've made it! Sounds like an excuse to celebrate. :)

  4. I have a Brazilian red pepper tree in the hood here and will gladly send a ziplock sometime. The red peppers taste like black pepper, but also sweet and juicy. They are small like a red BB pellet.

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  6. I think is I wasn't so tech-tarded I might have said-

    We still have two tanks of homemade hard cider in our cellar.

    The question was: "Hey what could we do with all those apple trees?"
    The answer is: "A shit-load of cider."

    Martina from The Foreign Kitchen

  7. Must.... Drink.... More.... Cider.....