Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chilly weather chowder:

David and I started dating in the middle of winter, the day after Christmas in 2005. Shortly after that, I moved into his Clifton apartment. The apartment was cheap but drafty, and in an attempt to keep me happy, David cranked the thermostat to a balmy 70 degrees.

The utility bill tripled. David and I were both working part time while attending classes at U.C., and the budget was tight as it was, even without an astronomically high heating bill. So the thermostat went back down, I spent a lot of time in sweaters attempting to cuddle with the cat, and David made me lots of chowder.

This is a recipe that converges three essential factors and one essential food group for the college student: Cheap, lazy, leftovers and bacon. The whole batch fills a very large pot, making for a tasty lunch for the next few days.

David points out: contrary to what this graph implies, the chowder is not made with cold pizza, packaged bacon, a baconator, and leftovers from dinner at your parents house

For old times sake, we made it again the other day, on one of the first chilly, rainy days of the year. We are now significantly less lazy, and with full time employment, less cheap, so we changed the recipe a little. I've posted the original version with notes on the modifications.

Also, in college I was a little more calorie conscious, so David calculated the calories in this soup for me. It’s about 3,445 calories for 3 qts.

This recipe is adapted from this recipe on Allrecipes.com.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup frozen chopped onion
1 qt. of chicken broth (college version: use bouillon cubes and water)
2 lb. package Simply Potatoes mashed potatoes, 1 package diced or scalloped potatoes
1 lb. bag of frozen corn niblets
1/4 cup white roux made with bacon fat (college version: one (2.5 oz.) packet country style gravy mix)
2 cups milk for use with roux or gravy packet
1 lb. of cooked and crumbled bacon (college version: Oscar Meyer precooked bacon, cut into small pieces)

1. In large dutch oven or pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add scalloped potatoes and bacon, cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.

3. If making a roux instead of using the gravy mix, whisk 2 tb flour into 2 tb hot bacon fat, for a minute or two.

4. Slowly whisk the milk into the roux to make a basic b├ęchamel or into the gravy mix. Bring to a simmer.

5. Stir in corn and mashed potatoes; return to boiling. Add sauce from step 4.

6. Salt and pepper to taste.

To accompany the chowder, I made skillet scones, using an adaptation of this recipe. The only thing I would change is I'd use a little more salt in the dough.

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