Monday, December 22, 2008

New Mexico Chile Corn Chowder

While living on the New Mexico side of the Navajo Reservation, I had this soup at the Navajo Nation Inn, just across the border in Window Rock, Arizona. Theirs is scorchingly hot, but I went home and recreated a less fiery version. Since then, it's become a part of my family's Christmas tradition. The big dinner is always Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day we enjoy tamales, frybread, salad, chile corn chowder...and homemade snowballs for dessert.

Start to finish: About 1 hour
Servings: About 6

Note: Made according to the recipe, this is neither especially quick nor especially healthy.

New Mexico Chile Corn Chowder
1/2 pound bacon, plus 2 strips for garnish
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 small onions, diced
2 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 cups cream-style corn
2 cups roasted corn kernels*
4 cups chicken broth
1 small can diced green chiles, undrained
red pepper flakes to taste
2 cups milk
6 small potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  1. Chop the bacon before cooking, if desired. Fry bacon in pan until done. Remove from the pan and set aside. Reserve the 2 strips' worth for garnish.
  2. Add onions and celery to the pan the bacon was in, and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Transfer onions, celery, and all but reserved bacon to a large stock pot. Add cream-style corn, kernel corn, chiles, red pepper flakes, butter, broth, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix together flour and a little of the hot broth to form a paste.
  5. Add milk and flour paste to the stock pot. You might want to add more flour paste, depending on how thick you like your chowder. Simmer for 30 minutes or until you are ready to eat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with crumbled reserved bacon and serve.
*You can substitute frozen whole kernels in a pinch, but the roasted flavor is wonderful.

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