Historically, corn has been a major crop for the farms that lie along the fertile floodplain of the Connecticut River Valley. So while this version of chowder breaks from the usual potatoes and salt pork, its New England and Native American roots are solid. Chef Christopher Prosperi of Metro Bis, an innovative bistro tucked inside an elegant country inn in Simsbury, strips the sweet kernels and simmers the cobs in water to make a wholesome corn broth. In August, when the corn is at its peak, he says the broth is so sweet “you want to bathe in it.” He even freezes bushels of corn so that he can serve the stew year-round. Some added sweet potatoes, a little garlic, and cream turn this chowder from sultry to sassy.
Use a knife to cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. Place the cobs in a 5- to 7-quart pot and cover with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Strain the cobs and discard them, reserving the water, which is now your corn broth. It should equal about 4 cups. Set it aside.
Return the pot to the stove over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt; then add the oil. Add the onion, celery, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon of water. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the thyme and chopped garlic; cook for an additional minute.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring continuously, until it reduces down to almost dry. Add the reserved corn broth, cream, and sweet potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn kernels and simmer until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the white vinegar, a couple of grinds of black pepper, and parsley. Season to taste with kosher salt. Serve hot.
The Simsbury 1820 House,
731 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, CT