What is brown butter and why on earth would we want any? It’s not as strange as it sounds and I promise you will love the depth of flavor it brings to your recipes. Warm and nutty would be a good description of the taste. It is simple to create brown butter, since all you need to do is to cook it until the milk solids and salt, in the butter, begin to turn brown. You know your attention span better than I do, so I won’t tell you that it has to be done at a certain temperature. You can turn your burner on higher heat, being constantly attentive, stirring continually and removing the butter as soon as it has reached that rich brown color, but BEFORE it burns. Or, if you are like me and often step away from the stove to answer the phone, chase the mailman down the street with a bill you forgot to mail or fuss at stray cats digging in your garden, I recommend low or medium heat, so that the butter browns more slowly and you will be sure to catch it at it’s lovely brown butter peak.
It has been the craziest spring I can remember, as far as the weather is concerned. The fact that I am curled up in a sweatshirt and wearing socks, instead of being barefoot, in mid-May is a newsworthy fact, where I live. 🙂 Seriously, we are still getting occasional frost advisories at night. My garden should have been planted by, now, but between cold, flooding and tornadoes, it’s still just boxes of bare dirt. Oy! This nutty weather also means I’m still cooking more of the warm, hearty recipes that we typically associate with winter. We need warm, comfort food to ward off these frosty,damp days. I can do that easily with this lovely soup. The rich, creamy, delicious chowder is studded with bacon, chicken and vegetables and should be the picture next to the definition of “comfort food”, in dictionaries, everywhere. Using Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips made it even easier and really quick to get on the table. David told me to put this soup “on the list”. He has started a list of his favorite recipes that I create. This one made the roster. 🙂
I always like to do all the peeling, chopping and dicing for a recipe before I get started. Then things go together, quickly, once I start cooking. In this case, however, we want the potatoes cooking just a little ahead of everything else, so do those first. Begin by peeling the potatoes and dicing them into 1/2-inch cubes.
Pour the chicken stock into a large kettle or stew pot and bring it to a boil. Add the diced potatoes and reduce the heat. You want to get them started cooking so they are soft when you add the final ingredients, in just a few minutes. They don’t need to boil hard, a gentle simmer while you prep the rest of the ingredients is more than sufficient. Be sure to use a good, flavorful chicken stock, too. Homemade is best, but if you don’t have any in the freezer, choose a brand with rich, chicken-y flavor.
Now, dice up the chicken, onion and bell peppers. Since, the chicken is pre-cooked, you can cut them all on the same cutting board. You also need to cut the bacon into one-inch strips. If you do that after the chicken and veggies, it’s fine to use the same board, but if you do bacon, first, get a new cutting board out for the chicken and vegetables (or wash the board, in between).
Start melting your butter in a large skillet. I love a cast iron skillet, for evenness of browning and cooking, but use your favorite. Make sure it’s deep enough to hold all the ingredients. Remember, if you’re cooking your butter on high heat, it needs your undivided attention. If you will be stepping away from the skillet, keep the heat low to prevent burning. The butter will melt and then you will see it begin to turn a warm, golden brown color. Once it reaches that stage, add the bacon pieces, turn the heat to medium and cook the bacon until it is almost completely done.
Once the bacon is cooked, add the diced vegetables to the skillet. Let them cook two to three minutes, before moving on.
Oh my word! I wish you could smell this! The nutty butter with the bacon and aromatic veggies are going to send aromas wafting through your house that will have your entire family coming out to the kitchen to be closer to that fabulous smell. And after all, isn’t that what cooking and baking and sharing meals, together, is supposed to do? The kitchen is the heart of our home. Everyone gathers there to help and to visit while meals are being prepared. They watch and learn and we laugh and connect. I hope your kitchen beckons to the ones you love to come and be near you. Cooking –the way you do it and the memories you make at the same time, are a part of your family history. It’s a legacy that you can hand off to the next generation and they will “know” you by the stories and recipes that are passed on. Be sure you are cultivating those memories and inspiring your kids to carry the tradition to their own families, some day.
Add the chicken chunks to the bacon and vegetable mixture, in your skillet. Stir to incorporate and allow to cook 2-3 minutes more.
Add the flour to the skillet and stir to be sure it coats every vegetable and chunk of chicken. The goal will be for it to completely disappear as it creates a light film over everything in the skillet. To make this recipe gluten-free, simply substitute half the amount of cornstarch for the flour. Whichever one you use, adding it to the mixture, now, and coating all the ingredients that will go into your chowder, will help prevent having lumps form in your soup stock.
Continue heating for just a little bit, two or three minutes, to cook out the “flour” taste and be sure everything is combined. You’ll want to continue stirring during this cooking time and you may notice a light film sticking to the bottom of your skillet. Use your wooden spoon to keep scraping that off and mixing it in, so it doesn’t burn.
Once your thickener has coated everything in the skillet and had a couple minutes to cook, dump the entire contents of the skillet, into the chicken stock with the cooking potatoes. Keep stirring over medium heat until everything is combined and you can see that the chicken stock is beginning to thicken, slightly.
Add the corn. Adding it earlier than this would mean the texture will become mushy and it would lose it’s vibrant yellow color. Remember we eat as much with our eyes, as with our tastebuds. When your dishes are visually appealing, no one can wait to give them a taste. A wide variety of bright colors and textures add to the visual appeal, as well as the taste appeal, of a good recipe.
While the corn is heating, take the time to grate the cheese. Monterey Jack adds yet another wonderful, but mild layer of flavor to this soup. It doesn’t have to be grated very fine, since it will melt easily when added to the hot soup. Get it grated and set it aside to add at the very end.
Once the corn is heated through, add the cream and then stir in the cheese.
Once the chowder is hot and the cheese has melted you are ready to serve! You really don’t need anything other than some good bread to make this a scrumptious and filling meal. It is fantastic!
How are you and your family keeping warm during these cool, damp spring days? Do you have favorite go-to comfort food recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, but have loads of slow-cooked flavor? Leave a comment to share your quick and easy family meal, comfort food solutions.
- ½ cup butter
- 4- 5 cups raw Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 large red bell pepper, minced
- 1 large green bell pepper, minced
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into one-inch pieces
- 3 cups pre-cooked chicken breast, diced (Make your own, or for speed, I used Tyson Grilled and Ready Strips)
- 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour (or 1½ Tablespoons corn starch to be gluten-free)
- 6 - 7 cups frozen corn
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- optional, green onions or fresh parsley for garnish
- Peel and dice potatoes.
- Pour chicken stock into a large stock pot or kettle, bring to a boil and add diced potatoes. Reduce heat to simmer.
- Dice chicken, onion and peppers. Set aside.
- Cut bacon into one-inch chunks.
- In large, deep skillet, melt butter and continue heating until it reaches a warm, nutty brown color.
- Add the bacon pieces and cook until they are browned.
- Stir the peppers and onions into the butter and bacon. Cook 2-3 minutes until they are hot and their color has brightened and intensified.
- Add in the diced chicken, again, stirring and cooking until it heats through -- 2-3 minutes.
- Add the flour (or cornstarch) to the skillet and stir to coat all the chicken and vegetables, being careful to scrape up any "film" that forms of the bottom of the skillet, so it doesn't burn.
- Turn the chicken stock and potatoes up to medium heat.
- Add the chicken and vegetables from the skillet and stir to combine. You will see the broth start to thicken, slightly.
- Stir in the corn and continue cooking until the corn is hot (only about 3 or 4 minutes).
- Stir in the heavy cream and grated cheese.
- Continue to heat and stir over medium heat until the soup is hot and the cheese is melted.
- Serve in bowls with warm homemade bread. Garnish with chopped green onions or fresh parsley.