This extremely tasty chowder warms the soul on a chilly autumn night. I enjoy any type of chowder (fish, clam, corn, you name it!), but I find this version particularly interesting because of its use of sweet potatoes, sherry and thyme, and the crème fraîche adds a delicious finishing touch. Long list of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s really easy to prepare — I hope you’ll try this chowder one night!
4 oz bacon, diced
2 Tbsp butter
2 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and finely chopped (white part only)
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 – 3 medium red potatoes (tot. 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb frozen corn kernels
6 Tbsp dry white wine
3 Tbsp dry sherry
3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus some additional for garnish
2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped)
3 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups beef or vegetable stock
4 oz crème fraîche
Heat bacon in a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Reserve 1 tsp of the bacon fat.
Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in the leeks, shallots, celery and reserved tsp of bacon fat. Sauté about 8 minutes, until leeks and shallots are translucent (and not burnt). Add the bay leaf, garlic, red potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Cook 8 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the wine and sherry. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes.
Stir in the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, cayenne and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer for about an hour, until the potatoes are soft, but not falling apart. Remove from heat. Stir in the crème fraîche and season with additional salt, if desired (I added another 1 tsp salt, which seemed about right). Pour into serving bowls, and garnish with chopped parsley and black pepper. I like to serve this dish with cornbread sticks.