Our Wine of the Week, Migration 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($32), and other wines like it are part of a summer tradition, which I realized as I perused this column’s archives. As I sipped the wine, exploring its plush texture and feeling its fruit unfold — first white peaches and nectarines and then apricots — I found myself thinking of summer’s sweet corn and the delicious chowders made with it. So I glanced back at previous chardonnay pairings and there was all the evidence, corn chowder, corn custard, corn risotto, corn and salmon soup, pear and corn stuffing.
Little is better with a big buttery chardonnay in the summer than corn.
The simplest way to savor the combination is with roasted corn on the cob slathered with good butter and seasoned with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Gild the lily by adding crumbled cheese or bacon.
This regal chardonnay is also excellent with lobster, so if you’re planning a lobster feed this summer, you’ll want it around. Seared scallops are a great match, too.
For today’s recipe, tradition continues, with another yummy chowder.
Corn and Potato Chowder
Serves 3 to 4
3 to 4 bacon slices, in small dice
1 small yellow onion, in small dice
1 carrot, peeled and minced
— Kosher salt
2 medium potatoes, preferably Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold or German Butter, peeled and diced
— White pepper in a mill
3 cups homemade chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
3 ears of very fresh corn, shucked
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Estero Gold, Vella Dry Jack, Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar hard cheese
3 tablespoons fresh snipped chives
But the bacon into a medium sauce pan, set over medium-high heat and cook until just crisp; use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to absorbent paper to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and return the pan to the heat.
Add the onion and carrot, season with salt and saute until very soft and fragrant, about 12 to 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary and do not let brown. Add the potatoes, stir and add several turns of white pepper. Pour in the chicken stock, add the bay and thyme and simmer gently until the potatoes are just tender, about 12 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, cut the corn kernels off the cob. To do so, hold an ear of corn over a wide deep bowl and hold a knife at an angle (about 15 to 20 degrees) to the cob and cut downward, removing the kernels but none of the cob. Discard the cobs.
When the potatoes are just tender, stir in the corn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the corn is heated through and is no longer raw. Older corn will need another couple of minutes. If the soup seems too thick, thin with more chicken stock or water and heat through.
Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, leaving half of it chunky, if you like. Return to very low heat, stir in the cheese, taste and correct for salt. Stir in half the chives. Ladle into soup plates, scatter the bacon and remaining chives on top and serve.