Every summer, hundreds of farm stands dot the roadsides in Maryland. They pop up towards the end of May and hang around until after Labor Day. Some are little mom and pop shops selling homegrown fruits and veggies, while others are huge multi-farm operations. Each one, large or small, offers a taste of the season’s very best produce.
Strawberries, peaches, green beans, melons, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers are all abundant during the hot summer months. Although I love all of the summer produce Maryland has to offer, there is one item that tops my must-have list: sweet corn! Nothing beats a bite of sweet, ripe, locally grown corn.
Yesterday I stopped by my favorite Eastern Shore farm stand to check out what tasty things they had to offer. This particular farm stand holds a special place in my heart. Why? Because as a kid, this is where we bought the hay for my horses, where I stopped for a snowball on a hot summer day, and where we bought fresh local produce all summer long. I don’t know why, but the breeze feels warmer and the air smells sweeter there. One step inside and I was hit with instant nostalgia!
This farm stand always has the freshest, ripest, juiciest produce- and they certainly didn’t disappoint me yesterday! My boys and I strolled through the baskets of fuzzy peaches, sun ripened tomatoes, and eventually made our way over to the sweet corn. We picked out a few ears of golden sweet corn and were heading to the register when something caught my eye. Goats! Cute, fuzzy, adorable, baby goats! We hightailed it out back to pet the feisty little critters (after asking permission of course). My boys fell instantly in love with the goats, a love that I can fully understand- I had a pet goat growing up. His name was Bowe and he was the perfect companion for my horses and a very interesting little fellow.
After petting each baby goat at least a dozen times we headed back inside to pay for our sweet corn. Oh, and there may have been a few snowballs topped with marshmallow to pay for too 😉
I really didn’t have plans for the corn when I purchased it, but by dinner time I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. Corn chowder is a favorite of mine, even in the heat of the summer. I decided to make my own version and kick it up a notch with poblano peppers. This Sweet Corn & Poblano Summer Chowder turned out even better than I thought it would (I love when that happens)! It has just a hint of heat from the peppers, but showcases the sweet and creamy corn as the star of the dish. We served it with sweet Italian turkey sausage, but you could omit this part and keep it vegetarian for a tasty summer meal.
I foresee a return to this Eastern Shore farm stand in my near future for more sweet corn (and probably another snowball… or two)!
Sweet Corn & Poblano Summer Chowder
serves 3-4 people
5 ears of sweet corn, local and organic if possible
1 Tbs + 2 Tbs organic butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup organic celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
3 oz tequila
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups organic whole milk
1 cup organic half-n-half
1 lime, juiced
1 lbs cooked sweet Italian turkey sausage, crumbled (optional)
Diced green onions, for garnish (optional)
1. Using a sharp knife, slice off the kernels from the corn cob. Set the cobs aside for step #6.
2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the onion in 1 Tbs of butter, until softened.
3. Once the onions are softened, add the celery, garlic, and poblano peppers. Stir and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Next, add the corn kernels. Turn the heat up and stir continuously until the corn gets a nice sear, about 1 minute.
5. Reduce the heat to low and add the tequila, stir.
6. Add the milk and half-n-half. Then, place the corn cobs into the mixture. Cover and simmer on low/medium heat (depending on your stove) for 12-15 minutes.
7. Remove the corn cobs (they can be discarded- or composted- at this point).
8. Using a blender, carefully puree roughly 2/3 of the chowder. Return the pureed portion to the pan and stir to combine.
9. Mix in 2 Tbs of butter and the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.
10. Serve hot and top with crumbles of sweet Italian turkey sausage and diced green onion (optional).