Sweetcorn, Chicken and Bacon Chowder with Buttermilk


(picture taken in Brixton market by Zoe)

Zoe and I have been thinking about chowder lately – she had sent me a New York Times article about different versions, and after a delicious corn bread baked by our friend Ayca, we fantasised about a dinner party with a big bowl of clam chowder and a fresh loaf of corn bread to eat it with. Walking home hungry from the library, I thought about it again, but realised I couldn’t get clams, so made this with chicken. Buttermilk is lighter than cream or sourcream, and its acidity gives a nice shape to the delicate broth – though cream would still be great, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon to finish.

I cooked this for Zoe and Nick who is chef at ‘Salon’ in Brixton market and they were both enthusiastic about this dish.


4-6 chicken thighs and drumsticks

100g offcuts of smoked bacon, or chopped up sliced smoked bacon

2 cobs of corn, cut off the corn with a knife and reserve the cob

2 cloves, garlic finely sliced

½ pint, water

2 bay leaves

150ml, white wine

200ml, buttermilk

6 spring onion tops, sliced into 1cm lengths

pinch of cayenne

How to make:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown all over in melted butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Remove from the pan. Add in the bacon and fry for a minute or so and then add the garlic. Cook for a minute or so and then add the chicken back in. Fry for a minute or two. Then add in the water and the wine and the bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes on a low bubbling heat. Add in the corn and the cobs and cook so that it’s gently bubbling for 20 minutes with a lid on, and then 10 minutes uncovered.

Check the chicken is cooked but cutting to the bone – it should not be pink. Add in the buttermilk and warm through, but do not boil hard. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with the spring onion tops and a dusting of cayenne.

Eaten with:

Boiled new potatoes and a green salad.


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