Potato-Leek Chowdah

Oh yes, chowdah.....I have to pronounce it that way because I always think of the northeast when I think of chowder. I imagine cold, blustery days on the cape, looking out over the Atlantic as the lobster boats come in...and in my imagination I'm always enjoying a bowl of piping hot chowdah. Of course I've never been to The Cape and it's already over 90 degrees here so no chance of cold, blustery weather. So why chowder this time of year? Well, that answer is simple. I like chowder, I don't care if it's more of a cold weather food, it's economical, filling, and tasty. And it's always winter in my house because my husband keeps the ac blasting like a maniac all summer long, so chowder it is. Enjoy!

Potato-Leek Chowdah

6-7 slices bacon, chopped
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
3-4 leeks, sliced into rings and rinsed well
3 lbs of yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled, and diced into large dice
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 ears of corn (cut off the kernels)......or 2-3 cups of corn kernels
3 cups broccoli florets
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1-2 cups chicken broth
cheddar cheese and jack cheeses

For the first step, put a baking dish in the oven and heat to 400 degrees. I use stone baking dishes and I LOVE them, I highly recommend getting some, they are often inexpensive at Home Goods. Anyway, put your baking dish in the oven to heat up.

In the meantime, blanch your broccoli. To do this, fill a large bowl with ice water and set it aside. Then fill a large pot with water, add some salt, and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the broccoli and let cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and plunge into the bowl of ice water, drain well, and set aside.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! Your oven is preheated now so take out your baking dish and put your potatoes, leeks, corn, and garlic in the dish. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika, a bit of salt, herbs of your choice (I like thyme, parsley, and marjoram with this). Stir it all around and put into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, you want the potatoes to be very tender but not mushy.

While your potatoes are in the oven, get your bacon going.
Just fry it up in the same large pot that you cooked your broccoli in until it's nice and crisp. Set it aside and pour the excess grease from the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and add your 2 tbsp. of butter......yes, I know, I just got rid of perfectly usable bacon grease but there's a good reason for that. The butter will make the roux rich, bacon grease would just add greasy flavor, don't want that. So add your butter and let it melt, sprinkle the flour over the butter and stir until you have a paste. Let it cook for a few moments, over medium-low heat to get rid of the raw flour taste. Then add your half and half whisking away, it is going to look a bit lump at first but it will smooth out, just keep whisking until it gets there. Then add your milk and chicken broth and bring to a boil, let it boil for a few minutes then turn to medium-low heat.

Take your potatoes out of the oven, they should be done at this point, just test to see if they are tender.

Put about half of the potato-leek-corn mixture to your food processor or blender and add a couple of ladles of milk from the pot and process until starting to get smooth.

Don't overdo it, potatoes can turn into a glooey mess in a food processor really quick. Put this mixture into your pot along with the broccoli and the rest of the potatoes from the baking dish. Let it all heat through and give it a few good stirs. At this point if it seems too thick you can add a bit more milk or broth. Start stirring in your cheddar cheese, one handful at at time and making sure it's melted before the next handful, until you get it as cheesey as you want it.

Then ladle into bowls, top with a bit of shredded jack and the chopped bacon. YUM!


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