Monday, November 11, 2013

South Texas Potato Corn Chowder

Most of my culinary reinterpretations originate with a dish I try at a restaurant or a recipe I come across in random places. The dish I call South Texas Potato Corn Chowder came from a grocery store recipe card highlighting the store-brand ingredients. I particularly like soups in the winter and began to identify ways to make this one more to my liking.

The original is rather bland and the only texture in the chowder came from the corn. I added cubes of real potato, diced jalapeno, and garlic. And I added bacon which instantly improves it.

South Texas Potato Corn Chowder

1 C chopped onion
2 t diced garlic
2 C chopped or crumbled cooked bacon
1 can (15.4 oz) whole kernel corn
1 C sour cream (I prefer regular)
4 medium jalapenos diced
2 tabasco peppers diced
2 C ¼” potato cubes (I use southern style frozen hash browns)
2 C instant mashed potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a 3 quart saucepan cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon but reserve 4 TBS of the bacon fat in the pan to cook the onion, garlic, peppers, and potato cubes. If there is not enough bacon fat, supplement with butter or grapeseed oil. Cook the onion, garlic, peppers, and potato cubes until the onion is translucent and the potato cubes are soft. Add the corn, including liquid, bacon, and 5 cups hot water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add sour cream and stir until sour cream is dissolved. Add potato flakes and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

For my personal taste, I actually add more peppers because I love the flavor of peppers and I love the fire. Many recipes and every cooking show host will say to remove the seeds from the peppers, “because that is where the heat is.” I say that removing the seeds is for wimps, but if someone cannot tolerate overly spicy or hot foods, take the seeds out (and send them to me). The peppers will still flavor the dish as well as with the seeds.

Instead of instant potatoes, I sometimes use boiled potatoes. When I do this, instead of the diced potatoes in the initial fry/saute I reserve several potatoes that I cut into several larger chunks that I add to the mixture just before removing from the heat and serving. The rest of the potatoes I mash as I normally would but without adding salt, pepper, or any other seasoning. When it is time to add the potatoes to the chowder I start with about 3 C of mashed potatoes then gradually add more potatoes until I reach the consistency I like.

Soups with creamier consistencies tend to lure us with their rich hearty satisfaction. This chowder definitely fulfills this expectation, but it also surprises with the peppery tingle.

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