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COOKING

Of Cob and Cod

How to turn the inedible core of the corn ear into a sweet summer stew.

CORNY ENOUGH? Simmered corncobs form the base for this chowder made with corn kernels, cod, and roasted potatoes.
CORNY ENOUGH? Simmered corncobs form the base for this chowder made with corn kernels, cod, and roasted potatoes. (Photo / Jim Scherer) Photo / Jim Scherer
By Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven
August 13, 2006
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You're playing to a tough audience when you serve fish chowder in this region. Bostonians know what they like. And unless yours is almost thick enough to stand a spoon in, you might as well throw in the towel. So throw it in early. Ours is thin and so loaded with flavor, you might wonder what else besides corn and cod went into the pot. In fact, the stock is made with corncobs - those useless pieces tossed onto the compost heap after you remove the kernels. They offer the broth a subtle, summery flavor that embraces the cod. Or adapt the classic duo to succotash, another New England tradition. Instead of lima beans, make this old-fashioned vegetable stew with green beans, and roast the cod on top. Even a tough customer will soften.

CORN STOCK
MAKES 2 QUARTS

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
4 large ears fresh corn, kernels removed and reserved for chowder (see right)
2 quarts cold water

In a soup pot, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the onion, carrots, celery, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and continue to cook the vegetables for 10 more minutes.

Snap the cobs in half. Add them to the pot and pour in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and simmer the stock for 30 minutes.

Set a colander over a bowl. Strain the stock into the bowl and set aside. Discard the vegetables.

COD AND CORN CHOWDER
SERVES 4

2 russet or other baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil Kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn
2 quarts corn stock (see left)
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless cod, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Set the oven at 450 degrees. In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil until they are well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a large cast-iron skillet. Roast the potatoes, turning often, for 30 minutes or until they are crisp and golden all over. Remove them from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large flameproof casserole, heat the vegetable oil. When it is hot, add the corn and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add the corn stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Set the pieces of cod in the liquid, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Add the cream at the sides of the pan. Shake the pan to mix the liquids without breaking up the fish. Taste the broth for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve at once.

COD ROASTER ON SUCCOTASH
SERVES 4

1 pound green beans
2 tablespoons butter Salt and pepper, to taste Kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn
1/2 cup corn stock (see left) or chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless
cod, cut into 4 pieces 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Set the oven at 400 degrees.

Trim the green beans and cut them into thirds. Drop them into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Tip them into a colander and rinse them with cold water.

In a large skillet with a heatproof handle, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the green beans, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.

Add the corn and stock to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for 1 minute.

Set the cod on the succotash mixture and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Transfer the pan to the hot oven and roast for 10 minutes or until the cod is opaque and flakes easily. Sprinkle with basil and serve at once.

COD STEAMED WITH CREAMED CORN
SERVES 4

2 tablespoons butter Kernels from 4 ears of fresh corn Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup corn stock (see left) or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless cod, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large deep skillet, melt the butter and cook the corn, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, stock, and the cream. Cook over high heat until the mixture is bubbling.

Lay the cod on the corn mixture. Sprinkle the fish with salt. Cover the pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook the cod for 10 minutes or until it is opaque and flakes easily.

Divide the fish and corn among 4 plates. Sprinkle with parsley and serve at once.

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