I was on vacation in Napa Valley a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful corn chowder at a restaurant in downtown Napa. Since the cool weather is upon us, I decided to try my hand at my own version. I rarely measure ingredients when I cook, so I hope my guess-ta-ments here are close to what I used! My husband thought it was pretty tasty and I hope you do as well!
Heat grill to medium high. Husk corn and brush ears with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast corn directly on grill about 30-40 minutes, turning several times during cooking. Let cool and cut corn from cob. In lieu of roasting corn, you can cut corn from cobs and sauté in a skillet until carmelized. You may also use frozen corn. Thaw corn and pat dry to remove moisture before sautéing. A cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil works best for carmelizing (this will bring out a sweet, smoky flavor in the corn).
Meanwhile, heat a large soup pot on medium high heat, dice and sauté bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on a paper towel. Leave about 1-2 teaspoons of bacon drippings in the pot.
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and about the same of butter or margarine. Sauté onions until translucent. Add potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, sage, and about 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Stir and cook this mixture to coat vegetables with bacon flavor and seasonings, about 5 minutes.
Add wine to deglaze the pot then add chicken broth, ham hock, and diced ham. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are softened but still firm, about 15-20 minutes.
At this point, you can either continue with the recipe or remove from heat and finish up when you are about ready to serve. I think it tastes better if you let it sit for a while to let the flavors come out.
To finish up the recipe, remove ham hock, return to medium high heat and add corn. Stir cornstarch into half and half to dissolve and add to pot. Stir frequently until just boiling. Remove from heat and stir in bacon and parsley. Add additional salt or pepper if needed. You can also remove the small amount of meat from the ham hock and add this to the pot.
Serve with a warm flaky biscuit or focaccia bread and enjoy!