Saturday, September 28, 2013

What's for Dinner? Cheesey Corn Chowder

I've been really quiet on the blog over the summer - a couple reasons for that. Still working on the baby making thing - had to deal with a few surprises in uterine health that I'm not going to get in to tonight. But then mostly? Summer eating for us is about steaks and corn on the cob on the grill. We'd eat that 3 or 4 nights a week and be really happy with it, so it's not very blog-worthy!

But, the weather has started to cool down, it's by no means "fall" yet here in the North Carolina, but we can start thinking about soup and not have it need to be chilled! I was watching the Food Network this morning and caught an episode oft he Pioneer Woman making a cheese and corn chowder. YUM! I started with her recipe as a jumping point, and shaped it to my tastes and needs.

The key to a good soup that has only a few ingredients is to use the best quality ingredients that you can. Each component really has to hold up. To that end, I used some late season fresh corn, home made chicken and vegetable stock, and good quality cheese. If corn is out of season, frozen would be preferable to canned, and commercial stock or broth will work as well. As for cheese, grate it yourself off a block. Most packaged shredded cheese offerings have corn starch or another added ingredient to prevent clumping in the bag, and that can create a grainy texture in a chowder. Take the extra minute or two to do it yourself.

Pre-op, I'd have made this with half and half and full fat cheese. I can tell the difference, but the differences are modest enough that it doesn't impact the dish for me.

That said - here's the recipe!

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 strips cooked bacon with rendered fat reserved
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped fine
  • 5 ears corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small red bell pepper - seeded, chopped fine
  • 2 cups home made chicken stock
  • 1 cup home made vegetable stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese - shredded
  • 8 oz 2% sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and green part  - chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Melt butter in a large pot - preferably an enabled cast iron pot. Add reserved bacon fat. Saute onion until it begins to turn translucent.

Add bacon, then add bell pepper - cook for a minute or two until it begins to soften. Add corn, stir to coat with butter and fat.

Add flour, mixing until the fat is absorbed. Cook stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes letting flour and fat turn into a light roux bound to the vegetables.

Add chicken and vegetable stock - bring just to a boil. Mixture should begin to thicken.

Add milk, salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1 tsp kosher salt and a good dozen cranks of freshly cracked black pepper). Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15 minutes.

Add both cheeses, stirring until melted into the chowder. Ladle into bowls, top with green onions.

Recipe makes about 9 1-cup servings.

Bariatric eaters: up the protein by adding diced roast chicken at the end - 1 oz chicken adds 7g protein, 35 calories, and 1g fat. 

WLS Post-Op Rating: 9+ months (fat content and corn). 

Nutritional information (1 cup serving): 263 calories, 15g fat, 24g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 9g sugars.

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