A few days ago, someone forwarded me a text with an image that read "Twenty years ago, we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, and Steve Jobs. Now we have no cash, no hope, and no jobs. PLEASE don't let Kevin Bacon die."
Teeeeeee. Obviously, my family's penchant for bacon is well known to my texting friends!
I'm actually sort of neutral on bacon. I like it, but not enough to make it very often. My affection for bacon is outweighed by my dislike of cleaning up bacon grease. My kids, however, LOVE BACON. Especially Jake. And Nathan, Haley, and Kaleb, but especially Jake. And probably they have no problem making bacon because I still have to clean up the grease.
And while I do put bacon in my potato salad, I've never fully realized the impact that it can have on a dish until I made this cheddar corn chowder last night. Oh, my. The bacon added just the right richness and flavor and slip. To fully explain how delicious a soup recipe this is, I shall say this: it is worth the mess of bacon grease!
Cheddar Corn Chowder
(adapted fromThe Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten)
5 slices bacon, chopped
1 swirl EVOO
1 sweet onion, chopped fine
1 T butter
1/3 cup flour
freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
3 14-ounce cans chicken broth
1 cup water (ish)
1 tsp chicken base
4 cups diced potatoes (about 2)
3 cups frozen corn
1 cup milk
1 cup half & half
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Pour the milk and half & half into a measuring cup and let come to room temperature while you cook. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil. Cut up the bacon (for speed, use scissors!) and drop into the oil. While it crisps (stir occasionally), dice the onion. Remove bacon. Add butter to the olive oil/bacon grease mixture, toss in the onions, and cook on medium low for about ten minutes, or until onions are soft. While they saute, peel and dice the potatoes. Stir in the flour, salt, petter, and turmeric. (The seasonings are to taste. I added about 1/2 tsp of salt—add more if you like things REALLY salty—and as much black pepper as you like. We like a lot.) Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water, and chicken base and stir, then toss in the diced potatoes. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft-ish. Add extra water if necessary. Toss in the frozen corn (or, if you're fancy like Ina, cut it from the cob, parboil for 3 minutes, drain, and then toss in the corn) and the shredded chicken (I had two breasts' worth, minus what Kaleb snatched while helping me shred). Bring back to a simmer, then pour in the room-temperature milk/half & half mixture and re-simmer again. Stir in cheese to melt. Serve topped with the diced bacon and a little bit of extra cheese on top.
And have your own bacon epiphany!