I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

March 3, 2010


Sometimes inspiration comes in the simplest of forms. It can come from something you look at, hear, taste or do....today inspiration came to me just from leaving work. Good timing on my part. :)

It's not so much when I left work, although that plays in a little...but more how I left work. Every day when I leave my office, trot down the back stairs to the ballroom and group dining space I pass through the banquet kitchen where on a daily basis I get to interact with chefs and cooks of all manner. I am very lucky to work at a hotel where good food is part of the package and as we all know.....good food comes from good cooks/chefs.

Some nights I come downstairs and raid the hot boxes for hors d' oeuvres before heading home...stuffing myself with lobster BLT's (oh yeah!), prosciutto wrapped melon, fig tarts and ahi tuna on won tons. My job definitely does not suck when it comes to tasty vittles. Some of these items along with others have made their way in to my repertoire in the kitchen for various dinners and parties. I generally will wing it, just taking the general idea and faking it on my own or expanding on it to suit my tastes and moods.

On the way home this evening I was in a quandary as to what to make for dinner....not feeling the sausage vibe after Monday's extravaganza, same with ground beef....it was chilly out which always makes me want something comfort food-like......What did I have in the fridge again?

Arg. My thought process kills me sometimes. I really am a pain in the ass.

While passing through the kitchen on the way to my car I stopped to chat with one of our banquet chefs to see if he had any fun ideas about what (like that is his job, right?). We tossed around a few ideas with a few of the other cooks chiming in occasionally and then I happened to wander over to the stove to peek at what was cooking. And I found my inspiration. Yay!

On the stove was a 5 gallon stockpot with poblano chili's, onions, celery and corn in a creamy broth. Click! Sounded good to me, knew Brock would love it (he looooves the roasted chili's), it would be easy and fairly quick to make and best of all, I had almost everything I needed at home to make it. So my trip to Trader Joe's was all about the wine, with a chunk of bread as an afterthought. :)

The most time consuming part of the meal? Roasting and peeling the damn chili's. I know you can buy the canned ones and they are good in a pinch or in certain recipes, but really they are best when they are fresh, fire roasted, peeled and chopped. The best way to do this is on the BBQ, just throw them on over medium heat and turn continuously until they are blistered and blackened all over (not SUPER burnt though). Being as it was raining tonight, I was forced to do them on the stove...no biggie, but not as even heat-wise. Throw them in a paper or plastic bag and close it up and leave them there for 5-10 minutes. This will steam them a bit and help to loosen the skin. Then just take them out and scrape the skin off with a teaspoon and rinse quickly under cold water. Then you are free to chop, dice, slice or stuff them as you please. This works for all peppers, red, green, Anaheim etc....

Then of course I had to go and make the meal my own. How, you ask? Well it just so happens that I had a jar of smoked chicken stock in my freezer (doesn't everyone??) and chicken thighs as well....so why not add a little smokey flavor to the soup and call it good?

So I did. :)

To make the smoked chicken stock (if you are so inclined), you smoke the chicken bones in your cooktop smoker or little smokey and then add them in to the water with your veggies and cook. If you don't have the time (or if you don't have a friend like I do who makes it for you), you can just use plain chicken stock and smoke the chicken a little longer.

This is something I was able to throw together in a little over an hour, making it a great meal for a night when you are running late and just don't have time to putter in the kitchen. It also freezes beautifully, making it perfect for leftovers and care packages.

Smokey Chicken Corn & Poblano Chowder

1 T Butter
2 Small Onions, medium dice
3 Celery Stalks, medium dice
3 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Large Yukon Gold Potato, medium dice
2 Poblano Chili's, peeled & seeded, medium dice

4 Cups Smoked Chicken Stock

1 Can Green Giant Niblets

2 Boneless Chicken Thighs or Breasts (whatever you prefer, I'm a thigh girl myself)
1 T Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt

3 T Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Sweat the onions and celery in the butter until soft and add in potatoes and garlic, stir for 5 minutes or so over medium heat. Add in chili's and stir another 5 minutes. Add broth and let simmer for 15 minutes.

For chicken.....pat dry and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. At this point you can do one of two things..... if you are in possession of a a cooktop smoker (Great gadget!), smoke with mesquite chips for 15 minutes, then cool. Or if you don't have the smoker just throw them on the BBQ for about 6 minutes to a side over medium heat and remove. They don't have to be cooked all the way through, you still want them juicy. Chop the chicken in to 1/4 - 1/2 inch chunks and add to the soup pot.

Pull about 1/3 cup of the broth aside and let it cool, add 3 T flour and blend well, no lumps allowed. Pour this in to the simmering pot and stir until combined. This will thicken the soup to a chowder like consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste and if you want to add the cream, do so just before serving.

Here's to inspiration!

1 comment:

Lynn Kenton said...

Easier than grilling or stovetop is to cut the chiles into 3 or 4 flat strips and place on a cookie sheet w/ foil and stick under the broiler. That way you can do them all at once. How did I miss telling you that all these years/:)
Just be sure to keep checking them and removing them to the bag as they roast.