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Corn Chowder

Corn chowder, a fine way to put bacon into soup.  Serve with crackers or the beer bread I’m going to share in my next post.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (two cloves)
  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 42 oz. chicken stock
  • 2 large potatoes (I prefer to leave the skins on, but peel if it makes you happy.)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 lb bag frozen corn, or 6-8 ears grilled corn on the cob
  • 1 tsp chipotle*
  • 1 tsp dried basil or thyme
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Place bacon on sheet pan in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes.  While bacon is cooking, finely chop all vegetables.  (Your food processor can help!)
  2. When bacon is done, pour 2 tablespoons bacon grease into a dutch oven or soup pot.  Add chopped vegetables, except potatoes, and saute until soft, 7-10 minutes.
  3. Add flour and stir in thoroughly.  Keep stirring the flour and vegetable mixture for a minute or two to brown the flour.  (While not a true roux, it’s still a combination of fat and flour intended to thicken the soup.  It’s a start.)
  4. Add chicken stock, potatoes, and bay leaf.
  5. Bring soup to a full boil and maintain for 7-10 minutes.  This will break down the potatoes (hard, partially cooked potatoes are bad) and help thicken the soup.  Use this time to chop bacon and parsley.
  6. Reduce to a simmer and add cream, corn, bacon and remaining spices.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  (If using milk or half and half as a substitute for heavy cream, do not allow soup to return to a full boil.  The dairy product will separate.)
  7. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, and serve.  Cheese makes a tasty garnish.

*I use canned chipotle peppers that I’ve pureed in the food processor, but you could substitute 1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning if you prefer.

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Chicken and Dumplings

So, we talked about cooking a whole chicken, but now what do you do with it?  Now we turn it into chicken and dumplings and devour it like starving wolves.

This recipe can take some time and effort, but it’s cheap.  Like $10-$15, depending on sales and your supply of staples.  It’s also delicious and easy to transport — just put it in some sort of dish with a lid and go. Microwave it when you arrive at your destination and it’s ready to eat, no crackers or condiments needed. (Except for more black pepper, of course.)

Ingredients (Stew)
  • 1/2 stick (4 T) butter
  • 2 medium sized leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots or parsnips
  • 6 tablespoon AP flour
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1-2 pounds chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (You could also use a tablespoon of fresh rosemary, but you’ll have to chop it finely — whole rosemary can become a bit slimy when cooked.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pinch tumeric  (Optional, but encouraged.)
  • 1 dash nutmeg (A dash is smaller than a pinch…so sayeth science.)  (Optional, but encouraged.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Chop vegetables.  Carrots can be grated on a box grater.   With leeks, you want to cut off the rooty bit at the bottom, cut the white part in half lenthwise, and then cut into quarter-inch pieces.  Discard the green top.
  2. Melt butter and saute leeks, onion, and carrots over medium-high heat.  Cook until soft, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the flour, then the sherry.
  4. Stir in the chicken broth, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the milk, chicken, peas, garlic, and spices.
  6. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, ignoring while you prepare the dumplings.
Ingredients (Dumplings)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 3 tablespoons leftover chicken fat or bacon grease (You can substitute butter if you don’t have any lard.  Reduce salt by half if using salted butter.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Heat lard and milk until warm, not hot.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Do not over-stir.  (Pouring the wet ingredients into the dry will prevent all of the bubbles from the baking powder from escaping — you want them in the biscuits.)
  4. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.  This lets the baking powder react fully, ensuring light, fluffy dumplings.
  5. Spoon the biscuit dough into the stew in golf ball sized portions.
  6. Cover the stew and reduce the heat to low.  Let the stew simmer until dumplings have doubled in size, about another 15-20 minutes.

Parmesan Chicken with a Delightful Corn Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal (I am not kidding about the finely ground part.  Trust me, it will be much easier to chew this way.)
  • 1/2 grated parmesan cheese (preferably real cheese, not the Kraft sawdust)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions

  • Mix cornmeal, cheese, and spices in one bowl.
  • Beat the egg into the milk.
  • Dip chicken in milk mixture and then spice mixture.
  • Place chicken on lightly greased pan.
  • Bake at 350° F for approximately 40 minutes.
Number of Servings: 4
You could use leftover chicken for this: just cook until the crust is set and the chicken is hot, approximately 15 minutes.

Hangover Chili

Dice these things (or throw them in a food processor) and saute in a teaspoon of oil over medium/medium-high heat stirring frequently.

  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion
  • 2 serano peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers

Cook until soft and add a large teaspoon of minced garlic and a large teaspoon of minced chipotle peppers.  (Chipotle peppers can found in a can in the “ethnic food” aisle of your grocery store.  They keep approximately forever if stored in an airtight container.)

Add a shot of some sort of alcohol and use it to help you scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.  (This is called deglazing.)  Beer, whiskey, and red wine all work especially well and you can be more generous with the beer and wine.

Reduce heat to low and add one 64 oz. can of tomato juice.

Drain and add one (14 to 16 oz.) can of each:

  • kidney beans
  • black beans
  • pinto bean

Pinto beans may be omitted and chili beans added in their place.  Do not drain chili beans.

Throw in several handfuls of frozen corn.

Add spices to taste.  These spices.  All of them.

  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • black pepper
  • cumin
  • seasoned salt
  • celery salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

You could also throw some chili powder in there if you happen to have some on hand, but do not go out and buy it.

Turn heat up to medium-low/medium and sample after it’s simmered for at least ten minutes.  Adjust spices as needed.

Simmer, but do not bring to full boil, for at least another 20 minutes.

Eat with crackers and cheese.

Notes:
The spicier it is the more effective it will be at curing your hangover…and clearing your sinuses.  The Scoville Scale can help you decide which peppers you want.