Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deconstructed Maryland Crab Corn Chowder Paired with 2006 Buena Vista Carneros Ramal Vineyard Clone 17 RY Chardonnay

Deconstructed Maryland Corn and Crab Chowder

Today’s pairing features one of my favorite food adventures – taking a classic recipe, ripping it apart, and rebuilding it into something new and delicious while maintaining the basic backbone of the original dish.  The victim for today is a Maryland Crab Corn Chowder and is a creation of Chef Sue.  My role was simple; select the wine, make some photography, and enjoy.  Easy stuff.

Crab Butter Saute

Chef Sue’s idea was both simple and brilliant.  Chef Sue turned the chowder into a corn custard lovingly placed in ramekins, then topped it with butter sautéed fresh picked crab and scallions.  And of course, when you say Maryland and Crab in the same utterance, you are obligated to finish the sentence with Old Bay seasoning to add some authentic Maryland flavor.

Crab Butter Saute-2

The flavor profile for this dish is consistently sweet and buttery throughout.  With the exception of the Old Bay seasoning to add a little kick, the corn, the custard, the crab, and the scallions all feature sweetness.  The scallions add a nice depth and complexity to the flavors, and the buttery flavor shines through with the corn, crab, and custard.  With all this rich creamy goodness, the recipe limits the serving size to a single 6 ounce ramekin.  Confession:  I had two servings and have no regrets.

2006 Buena Vista Carneros Ramal Vineyard Clone 17 RY Chardonnay

The 2006 Buena Vista Carneros Ramal Vineyard Clone 17 RY Chardonnay is rated at 90, 91 and 92 points by various sources and features some wonderful flavors.  From the winemaker:

True to its Carneros terroir, this Chardonnay exhibits floral aromas and a pretty nose of green apple, Asian pear, citrus rind, mineral, and hazelnut. The wine continues with flavors of peach and spiced apple and tropical flavors with a nice broad mid-palate, which leads to a long finish with a great acid/fruit balance. The 2006 Ramal Vineyard Chardonnay has complexity with its multiple clonal selections, showing bright acidity and great fruit intensity along with richness and lush texture.

My only addition to these tasting notes is the pleasant and subtle butter notes evident in the finish and wonderfully balanced with the fruit and the acidity.  This Chardonnay is a real joy, and worth every penny of the $30 price tag.

Cutting Corn

The pairing of our deconstructed Maryland crab corn chowder and the 2006 Buena Vista Carneros Ramal Vineyard Clone 17 RY Chardonnay was truly exceptional.  The nicely balanced bright fruit and acidity of the wine with the buttery finish was a perfect compliment to the buttery sweet flavors of the crab chowder.  I was particularly enamored with the butter flavors echoing among the two.

Corn in Ramekins



  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (roughly 3 ears)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle salt
  • 1 pound of freshly picked crab steamed with Old Bay
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch finely sliced scallions
  • Old Bay seasoning to taste

Corn Custard in Ramekins


  1. Cook corn in boiling water until very tender. Allow to cool and cut kernels from the cob.
  2. Combine corn and milk in a sauce pan and warm over medium heat.
  3. Whisk eggs in a bowl and temper with heated milk-corn combination.
  4. Added tempered eggs to sauce pan, add truffle salt, and continue to cook for two minutes over medium heat.
  5. Pour the custard mixture evenly into four (6 oz.) ramekins.
  6. Place ramekins in a casserole dish and pour water around the ramekins to just over half the height of the ramekins. Place in 375 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until firm to the touch.
  7. Remove ramekins and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  8. While custard is cooling, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat until the nanosecond the butter begins to turn brown. Immediately remove from heat.  Don’t burn the butter.
  9. Add crab and green onions and return to heat stirring constantly for about two minutes.
  10. Serve custards topped with crab and season to taste with Old Bay seasoning.

Crab Butter Saute-1

In vino veritas, buen provecho.



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