I love Corn Chowder! It's actually one of my earliest food memories [the earliest are popcorn, rootbeer floats, and choking on a fish bone]. Growing up in MA, my Dad's office was in the next town over from us, Weymouth, and there was a diner type of restaurant called Sloppy Joe's or something like that. Every time he took me there, I had to get the Chowder. My Mom would make it on occasion, and my sister after that, so I never had a reason to make it myself. Not that I have a reason now, but last night was my first stab at it, and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself!
Because I wasn't in the mood to make something to go with it, I figured I would add chicken to the dish to make it more hearty. I picked up one of those rotisserie chickens at the grocery store. How weird is it that you can usually find those for less than what it would cost you to buy and roast your own chicken? That's one of the great supermarket bargains that is definitely worth it. Some things may be cheap, but you find out later there's a reason for that!
The one thing I will say is that it turned out a little thinner than I was expecting based on the various recipes I looked at before jumping in. Next time I make it, I'll cut back a little on the chicken broth. I'll also increase the jalapeno because it was hardly noticeable at all. The recipes I saw that included jalapeno only called for one. I used two, but omitted most of the seeds and pith. I'll either up it to three next time or leave more of the seeds in it. I wasn't looking for heat per se, but just that pop of flavor.
3-4 strips of bacon
(reserve 1T grease)
3 T butter
2 med onions, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 sm red potatoes, diced
2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 cans creamed style corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
32 oz carton chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
scallions or chive for garnish
Start off by cooking your bacon. Personally, I like it baked best - no muss, no fuss - bake it on a foil lined tray, flip it about half way through, then when you're done, you just remove the bacon, let the grease cool to solid on the tray, then wrap up the foil and throw it away. Your pipes will appreciate it! Just make sure you bake it extra crispy for this because you will be introducing it into a liquid, so it will lose the crisp and some color.
In your stockpot, saute the onions in the bacon grease and 3T butter until translucent, then add in your red bell and jalapeno peppers. When those start to cook down, season with salt and pepper and add the potatoes, thyme, corn, and broth. Bring the whole thing up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.
When the potatoes are soft, puree about one third of the batch and return it to the pot. You can do that in your blender or food processor - making sure to allow for the steam to escape. If you have an immersion blender / boat motor, you can run that around the pot instead. Mine seems to have PMS lately, so I went with the food processor.
Add the cream and some of the chicken to the pot and let cook a few minutes more to heat through and thicken. Crumble and stir the bacon in at the very end.
To plate, mound some chicken into the center of your bowl and ladle the chowder around it, topping the whole thing off with some sliced scallion or snipped chive for a pop of color. I contemplated dusting the top with smoky paprika but figured that might be overkill. I've got some leftovers though, so maybe I'll try that tomorrow. DANG!!! I just remembered that we have some little corn tortillas in the freezer. Had I remembered that last night, I would have sliced a few into strips and fried them. That would have made for a nice garnish! Oh well, next time!