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East Meets West: Cope’s Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab

I first learned about John Cope’s corn in an article in Saveur magazine some years ago. The family-owned company has been producing dried sweet corn since 1900 in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. We were going to visit family near Philadelphia for Christmas that year, so I ordered some and had it shipped to my sister-in-law. It would be one of the side dishes for Christmas dinner to accompany a pork roast. The shriveled kernels were dark yellow, some almost orange, and had a toasted sweet aroma. We made creamed corn following a recipe on the package. It was unlike any creamed corn any of us had experienced.

After that dinner, my daughter, who lives in eastern Pennsylvania, found Cope’s Corn in a grocery store. Now she sends me a regular supply. If you don’t live near Pennsylvania Dutch country (or have friends or relatives who do) you can order the corn from the source at http://www.johncopes.com/

Crab lovers on the West Coast eagerly await the beginning of the Dungeness crab season each fall. This year, after eating our fill of cracked crab with extra-virgin olive oil mayonnaise, I decided that Cope’s corn and the local catch would be a good match. These two are the main players in this dish, with a few aromatic vegetables to round out their sweetness and a splash of lime olive oil before serving for contrast.


4 to 6 servings


1 package (7 ½ ounces) John Cope’s Corn
3 ½ cups (28 ounces) whole milk
3 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) delicate extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
½ large jalapeno pepper, seeded, rib removed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large Dungeness crab (around 2 pounds), cleaned, cooked and shelled
lime olive oil for drizzling


Stir the corn and milk together in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion, celery, and jalapeño pepper and sprinkle with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the soaked corn with its milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the corn is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add additional milk or water as needed to maintain a thick soupy texture. When the corn is tender, add the crab meat and continue to cook until it is warmed through, a few minutes.

Ladle the chowder into hot bowls and drizzle with lime oil. Serve immediately.


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