I have a pretty good relationship with my smoker and it rewards me with many fine meals throughout the summer. Recently, I was looking for a way to satisfy a craving for an earthy corn chowder with shaved truffles we'd had at a local restaurant. Instead of truffles (which would break the bank), I decided to try smoking a portion of the fresh corn to lend some depth to the soup. And since it would be a crime to waste a good smoke, I seasoned a couple of duck breasts, then used some rendered skin in place of bacon in a fairly typical chowder recipe. Adjust the proportion of smoked corn to fresh and try different smoking woods to really make this dish your own. - Minimally Invasive —Minimally Invasive
Test Kitchen Notes
We absolutely love this chowder — you’d have to be seriously nuts not to. We used four duck breasts because we had them and it is a good thing because we ate a whole bunch of crispy skin bits before they ever made it to the chowder. The smoked and sweet corn simmered with the cobs and vegetables … summer in a bowl. We had some duck stock in the freezer so we used that for the liquid along with half and half. The whole thing comes together in a perfect balance of smoke and sweet and salt. I ate two bowls and only stopped because I was about to burst. - aargersi
Mix ingredients well and use to season any dark meat before smoking. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container.
Wash and dry duck breasts. With a sharp knife, score skin and fat, being careful not to cut into the meat. Coat both sides of breasts with dry rub and refrigerate uncovered up to one day.
Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, using your preferred smoking wood. Place two ears of corn on the lower rack just above the water pan. Place duck skin side up on the top rack over the corn. Smoke until duck is cooked through, about 40-50 minutes. Remove duck and corn from smoker.
Once corn has cooled enough to handle, cut the kernels from the ears into a large bowl and discard cobs. Cut kernels from the four remaining ears into same bowl and reserve cobs for the stock.
Remove skin from one duck breast half and chop. In a large, heavy pot over low heat, render fat from the skin. Remove crisped skin from pot with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel-lined plate to cool. Discard any fat over 1 tablespoon that remains in the pot. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the duck fat and increase heat to medium-high.
Sauté onion, bell pepper and celery in duck fat and butter until wilted. Do not brown. Add corn cobs and remaining ingredients through potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard corn cobs, thyme sprig, sage and bay leaf.
Transfer soup to blender in batches and purée until smooth. (For a velvety consistency, strain soup through a fine mesh strainer and press on solids to extract as much liquid as possible, then discard solids.) Stir in heavy cream or half-and-half and adjust seasoning to taste. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with crispy duck skin.