Thursday, October 8, 2009
Barefoot Bloggers is at it again! Jan from My Next Life chose the first October recipe: Cheddar-Corn Chowder.
You can find the recipe here:
When I first scanned the recipe, I had a few thoughts:
a) This soup is an ass buster! Bacon fat, butter, olive oil and 2 cups of half and half? If I'm going to commit calorie suicide, I'm doing it with french fries, or a big old burger--not soup, for chrissakes!
b) This soup feeds 10-12 people. Do I even know 10-12 people? Do I have a pot big enough to contain this monster?
c) How many times am I willing to eat this soup in the next week?
The brain was a-churnin' over here at Chez T.
One think I love about the Food Network website is the "reader comments" section that comes with each recipe. You can learn a lot about a recipe--and often avoid pitfalls/mistakes-- by perusing the comments section. Most Food Network junkies know something about cooking, so the hints they give are usually spot-on.
Many readers also noted the ass-busting properties of this soup. Quite a bit of tinkering went on with Ina's recipe. Some people omitted the olive oil completely and found that it worked just fine. Some people used milk instead of half and half. Some people omitted the bacon(NOT something I was willing to do). Some people pureed some of the soup and then stirred it back into the pot to thicken, rather than use half and half. I learned a lot.
I ended up omitting the olive oil. Didn't miss it. The flavor you get from the bacon fat is plenty sufficient. I also halved the amounts of butter and flour--the chowder was still plenty thick enough. I substituted whole milk for the half and half, and I gave the soup a quick whir with my immersion blender; I pureed just enough of the soup to give creamy consistency but still left plenty of chunky goodness. I mean, it is a chowder, not a bisque.
I also used very good, very strong cheese for optimal flavor. Some readers found the chowder bland, and I think it's because they used mediocre cheese. In fact, instead of cheddar, I used pepper jack. I loved the kick it gave the chowder. I also stacked the flavor deck in my favor by using smoked bacon--that extra oomph of smokiness really improved things.
And then I invited a few friends and neighbors over for Soup and Salad Wednesday. Luckily, it's been rainy and grim here, and people were definitely in the mood for a comforting bowl of chowder. And even after we did our best, there were plenty of tupperware containers travelling home.