Friday, March 27, 2009

Pork Chile Chowder for Gringos

Reminiscent of a winter vacation in New Mexico, and a warming meal for a cold night: Pork Chile Chowder. Of course, we're not chile heads and I'm responsible for feeding little ones, so we go with "gringo heat," enough spice to tingle the palate, not enough to require tissues, or gallons of cold water.

This recipe took shape after a foraging mission in the freezer which yielded both boneless chicken thighs and pork chops. I couldn't think of a recipe that would serve four out of each protein alone, so I used both meats in the chowder. You can use either pig or chicken or both in this recipe.

Pork (or Chicken) Chile Chowder
2 boneless pork chops, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices bacon (I use thick-cut bacon)
1 (32 oz.) container low-salt chicken broth (or homemade)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon adobo seasoning, or more to taste (I use Penzey's)
cumin to taste
salt and pepper to taste
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (7 oz.) can diced green chilies, or more to taste

1. Find a heavy soup pot for the stove and place over medium heat. Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces and fry until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and drain on paper towels. In remaining fat, brown the meat. When meat is seared, remove pieces to paper towels to drain.

2. You should have about 3 tablespoons of fat. If you have more, pour excess out of pot. If you don't have enough, add vegetable oil for a sufficient quantity. With a whisk, stir in 1/4 cup flour and seasonings. Slowly pour in chicken broth and whisk until smooth and thickened.

3. Return meat and potatoes to pot and heat through, up to a half hour. Add bacon, chilies and corn and warm up for at least five minutes. This step can be done in a slow cooker or as an oven braise: put the chowder base, meat, potatoes, bacon, chilies and corn in an oven-proof casserole or stockpot, cover and place in a low oven for a couple of hours. In my convection oven, I would put it on 300 for two hours and check every half hour to make sure the liquid level was adequate. If using a slow cooker, put it on the low setting for a couple of hours.

4. Taste for seasoning and serve.

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