I have to preface this by issuing an apology to Rachael Ray. I find her extremely annoying. And not just because someday if I ever meet Anthony Bourdain I’m going to use that as leverage to get him to go on a date with me (oh I hate Rachael Ray too!!! Then I smile charmingly and bat my eyelashes). Anyway- I was at TJ picking up the stuff I needed to make corn chowder, and I’m looking at the chicken, and the package of all-white chicken tenders says $9.53 and the package of chicken thighs, and I am not making this up, said $4.05. They come from the SAME CHICKEN FACTORY. Just kidding- they come from the same HAPPY CHICKEN FARM WHERE THE CHICKENS RUN AROUND ON GRASS AND ARE IN TOUCH WITH THEIR FEELINGS. They are less than half the price of stupid all white meat chicken tenders!!! Chicken thighs are a lot more flavorful than all white meat chicken, also. They do require a little more work, as they do need to be trimmed a bit, but especially in something like a soup, they contribute a lot of depth of flavor. I use chicken thighs from time to time, but mostly I use white meat chicken, and I think that time is ending. Because it is stupid. So my apology to Rachael Ray.
Dear Rachael- you are irritating. Your meals cannot be made in 30 minutes or less, I’ve tried. Your show $40 dollars a day is also total crap, because you don’t drink cocktails on vacation and that is completely implausible. But, you use chicken thighs a lot, and you encourage people to use chicken thighs a lot, being, as they are, a totally delicious and cheap part of the chicken. Also- you introduced me to adding parmesan cheese rinds to minestrone soup, which is a stroke of genius. Thank you for chicken thighs and parmesan cheese rinds. A tip- when you say “Yum-O!” people want to punch you. You’re welcome. Love, Caitlyn
Chicken and Corn Chowder
1 lb or so of chicken thighs, cut off any easy to cut off fat, and cut them into roughly bite sized pieces
5 strips of bacon
1 big onion, chopped
4 ribs of celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme
a little sprinkle of chipotle or cayenne, to taste
3 big baking potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces, skin on
2 bags of frozen corn, take them out of the freezer when you start cooking, so they’ll be kind of halfway thawed when you use them, which is fine.
a quart of low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup of half & half, or heavy cream, or just another 1/2 cup of milk if you don’t have those
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
Get out your big dutch oven or soup pot. Put it on medium-high heat and fry up your bacon. I like my bacon crispy, so it probably takes 4 or so minutes per side. When it’s crispy, remove the bacon from the pan, and decide if you want to leave all the bacon fat in and have your soup be delicious, or remove some of it in the name of “health” and have it be less delicious. Your call. Into whatever fat is left in the pan, put the chicken pieces, and let them get a little brown on the outside, moving it around a bit. After maybe 5 minutes of the chicken being alone in the pan, put in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook that down for awhile, maybe 10 minutes. You should be seeing a nice little stock happening at the bottom of the pan.
At that point, put in your spices and some salt (a three finger pinch) and pepper, and cook for one minute. Then, add in the potatoes, stirring everything together, coating the potatoes with the liquid in the pot. Then, put in the chicken stock and simmer everything until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Then put in the bags of corn, and stir everything around for maybe two minutes. This would be a good time to remove some of the soup, put it in another bowl, and use your immersion blender on it, if you have one. Blending a couple cups of the soup helps it get thicker, and distributes the sweetness of the corn a little better, but you can do as you like.
Next, put the flour in a mug, pour a cup of the milk over it, and whisk it together, removing all the lumps. Pour 2/3 of it into the soup, stirring it around, then put the rest of the milk/cream you’re using into the bowl with the remaining flour mixture, mix that up, and then pour that into the soup as well. Let it come to a simmering boil for a minute or two to cook off the flour flavor, and then serve.
You could mix some fresh parsley or cilantro into it, that’d be good, or serve it with cheddar cheese on it, that’d be good too. Just don’t say yum-O.