Monday, April 23, 2012

"Beyond Burlap" - (Earth Day) Idaho-Iowa Corn and Potato Chowder

Date I made this recipe:  April 21, 2012 (Earth Day)

Beyond Burlap – Idaho’s Famous Potato Recipes by Junior League of Boise
Published by:  Favorite Recipes© Press
ISBN:  0-913743-97-6
Recipe:  Idaho-Iowa Corn and Potato Chowder – p. 83

Well Happy Earth Day, everyone!  Although I stand firmly by my life motto that “Nature is not your friend,” I am not so heartless that I can’t participate in “ED” nor wish you a happy one at that.

As to recipes, my first thought was something vegetarian since we were celebrating Mother Earth (not that meat isn’t important, it is) but I don’t have that many vegetarian cookbooks and the ones I do have didn’t send me flying with the recipe selection.  Besides, many vegetarian cookbooks use meat substitutes whereas I was looking for something from the earth. If one is going to participate in Earth Day, one must do it right!

So hooray for my Idaho potato recipe book because nothing says “earth” to me like a lovely potato.  Out of all the things my father grew in my garden growing up, naturally I loved potatoes, if only because going to the barrel (used as a root cellar) in the middle of winter to get one was so much fun.  Call it the culinary version of “dumpster diving!”

Now, I could have taken the easy way out of all of this by making something like a stuffed baked potato but come on, bacon bits do not exist in nature, am I right, and so that felt wrong to me.  And while there was a recipe for Cinnamon Rolls made with mashed potatoes, the guilt of making something so sinful on Earth Day would have kept me up at night.

In the end, it came down to a toss-up between potato leek soup and this recipe for corn and potato chowder, with the chowder winning out because it had chicken and bacon in it, something my husband would like.  (Well me too, now that you asked!).  Since whatever meal I make for the blog normally constitutes our Sunday dinner, I wanted it to be a little heartier than normal.

The other tipping point to making this chowder instead of the soup was that this recipe celebrates the best of Idaho and Iowa- potatoes and corn - and what could be wrong about that?!  Sure, it’s a little early in the season for fresh corn but fear not, shoppers!  My local Rainbow Foods had canned corn on sale for $.58 cents per can – score!!  Okay, it’s not as fresh but it’s not like it didn’t come originally from the ground so it works.

So before I provide you with the recipe for this yummy concoction, let me leave you with one of the potato tips that were scattered throughout the book, this one a Beauty Tip:  “To darken your hair; comb warm or cooled potato water from boiled potatoes through your hair.”  And here I was laying into bottles and bottles of Clairol….

Idaho-Iowa Corn and Potato Chowder – yield:  6 to 8 servings
3 slices bacon, diced
1 pound chicken (diced)
¾ cup chopped onion
¾ cup chopped celery
4 cups whole kernel corn
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cubed potatoes
Salt to taste
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in a heavy saucepan.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel and drain the saucepan, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.  (Ann’s Note; is it me, or do others find it hard to come up with the required amount of drippings for many recipes these days due to lack of fat on meat?  Even this bacon failed to yield 2 tablespoons so I added butter!)

Cut the chicken into cubs.  Add the chicken, onion and celery to the drippings in the saucepan.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken and vegetables are tender, stirring constantly.

Combine 2 cups of the corn and 1 cup of the chicken broth in a blender container; process until smooth.

Add the pureed corn, the remaining broth, the remaining corn, potatoes and salt to the chicken mixture.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in the cream and parsley.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the bacon, salt and pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls.

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