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Corn Chowder and Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits


Where I live, it is very, very cold. There are icicles on the trees, cars must be started at least 10 minutes before one actually wishes to make the first foray of the day, and everyone has boots with tread, a shovel, and backup pair of gloves. This morning, sidewalks and streets were covered with a sheet of ice, and we semi-seriously contemplated getting to church by sliding down the hill from our house. (Not that my life is all that Norma Rockwell-ian, but we actually do live at the top of a hill, and our church is more or less at the foot of said hill).

On a Sunday night when it’s been gray and cold forever, and the promise of the holidays is gone along with the first, unsullied snow, dinner needs to provide more than fuel. Demoralized persons (particularly those returning to school tomorrow after a blissful vacation) require something to lift the spirits in a way that cannot be accomplished with meatloaf or macaroni. Saving the demoralized requires something a little more interesting, a little more labor-intensive, and definitely farther outside the box.

Tonight, therefore, I used two of my Christmas gift cookbooks and made Corn Chowder and Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits. The Corn Chowder recipe, quite different from my standard chowder-making routine, is from a strange and wonderful book called Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, about which more later. The Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits are from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.

Cook this stuff. I suppose that if you are languishing in tropical heat somewhere you may not want chowder and biscuits, but no matter where you find yourself physically, if it’s wintery in your soul, this meal will make you strong enough to live another day and like it.

Corn Chowder

(from Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin by Kenny Shopsin and Carolynn Carreno)


  1. 6 slices bacon
  2. 1 baked potato, cut into 3/8 inch cubes
  3. 1/4 cup clarified butter, regular butter or ghee
  4. 2 cups froze corn
  5. 1 big yellow Spanish onion, finely chopped
  6. 2 carrots, finely chopped
  7. 3 tablespoons masarepa (Hispanic cooked cornmeal) or cornmeal
  8. A pinch of Pumpkin pie spice
  9. 3 cups chicken stock or any stock or broth
  10. 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  11. 3/4 cup heavy cream
  12. 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
  13. salt and pepper

Cook the bacon until very crisp in a heavy saute pan over very high heat. Remove the bacon from the pan. Add the potato cubes to the rendered fat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are very crisp and brown on all sides.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan (I used my soup pot) over high heat. Add the corn, onion, carrots and (if you like) other vegetables like arugula, spinach or green beans. Cook on high heat for about 1 minute, but don’t let anything burn. Add the cornmeal and pumpkin pie spice and stir. Add the stock, cheddar cheese and cream and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce thge heat to low and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan, potato and bacon. Don’t stir too much or wait too long to serve thge soup so that the bacon and potatoes will stay crisp. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.


Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

(from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten)


  1. All-purpose flour
  2. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced
  5. 1/2 cold buttermilk, shaken
  6. 1 cold extra-large egg
  7. 1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
  8. 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small glass measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. in a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with a small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly, about 6 times. (It’s normal that it will not stick together at first). Roll the dough out to a rectangle 5 x 10 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half, and across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I just used my silicone pan liners). Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 8 in theory, but 4 in reality.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

7 responses »

  1. I saw the word Ghee and knew exactly what it was and now I must say you have all the street cred you will ever need in my house

  2. Looks un-buh-leev-uh-bull

  3. Yes, I live in one of those supposed “tropic heat” situations (I was out for a 6 mile walk in the 62 degree weather this afternoon)…but I would eat this anytime! It looks scrumptious! And I like that it has the browned potato and crisp bacon in it. The pumpkin pie spice is an interesting twist, too.

    I am making note of this recipe as I am a Corn Chowder lover and MUST try this one soon.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Annie…

  4. Eric , it was fabulous. As for the ghee, I didn’t use it this time, but it’s really just clarified butter and I make it fairly often. It always reminds me of the extraordinarily racist version of Little Black Sambo I had as a child, in which “Little Black Sambo” was also a ghee-eating Indian.

    Michael, I hope you like it if you try it – I am fine with “regular” corn (or clam) chowder, but the crispy potatoes and bacon really elevate to a whole other place, culinarily.

  5. i’m a kenny shopsin fan although i’ve never been to the restaurant which has now moved to the lower east side from wherever it was in that wonderful documentary… the guy is a classic…

  6. claudia, I had never heard of Shopsin’s, but the book is fascinating – the way he thinks about food, and has hundreds of recipes in his head and changes them every time he cooks…fascinating. Do you remember the name of the documentary?

  7. Pingback: I Heart Kenny Shopsin. « Forest Street Kitchen

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