Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp

Last night's soup represented two firsts for me.  The first first was making a chowder.  Despite liking seafood and having spent several years living on the East Coast, I've entirely stayed away from eating them, let alone cooking them, given the perceived high cream/butter content.  Those who have eaten with me tend to know that I don't eat butter - or cream - or cheese - basically any foods rich and creamy with high animal fat content (and yes, that does include many desserts - such as ice cream).  I've been this way all my life, and those who love cheese are generally most appalled.  But back to the soup.

The second first is that I had never cooked bacon in my life.  That first is likely more surprising.  I'm not really into breakfast foods, and sausage is by far my breakfast pork product of choice, so here we were.

So why, given the above, was I embarking on this bacon-y chowder?  It had been prepared for me by my friends Ron and Katie in Boston over the summer, and I devoured it.  It was that good.  When they told me they had made a chowder for dinner, I was obviously quite dubious.  But over the years I've shared many great meals with wonderful conversation, wine and food with Ron and Katie in their home, so I was going to embrace this chowder.  When I heard that it was a Cooking Light recipe, and that they were going to be opening a Hartford Court pinot noir to drink with it, I thought ok, if ever I was going to have chowder and enjoy it, this would be the occasion.

So fast forward about 4 months.  Ron had sent me home with a photocopy of the recipe, and I had been thinking during the week that this would be the weekend to give this soup a try for Wayne and me.  In addition, it was going to be tree trimming night, so a bit of a special occasion.  The recipe says it is "super fast" 20 minute cooking.  It wasn't too much work, but it definitely took longer than 20 minutes.

Here is a link to the recipe:
I made some modifications I'll mention below.

The Le Creuset is ready to saute some bacon (a first for both of us):

Roasted corn from Trader Joe's.  A tip from Ron.  Imparts some good smoky flavor used instead of plain corn kernels:

The "special" extra ingredient Ron jazzed it up with.  Some large scallops.  I reduced the shrimp to about a half pound, took off the tails and cut the shrimp into smaller chunks, and added 3/4 lb of these big beauties leaving them whole:

The finished product:

The only other change I made was to puree 3 cups of the corn mixture rather than 2, and I used a food processor to do it instead of a blender.  I was a little unsure of the consistency. but after adding the half-and-half and seafood, it all came together nicely.  One modification I would make next time would be to add a little bit of chopped jalapeno or some crushed red pepper flakes to add a little contrasting heat.

Definitely glad I made it.  Only enough for one meal with a lunch-sized portion left for Wayne :)

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