Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Potato Bacon Chowder

I very clearly failed at the November Project, and will never bring it up again, because it doesn't make much sense for me to point it out. Instead, I'm going to continue on as though nothing happened (which, actually, is pretty accurate) and continue with the "Ryan writes about food he makes" series of posts which are probably subconsciously inspired by a summer weekday afternoon viewing of Julie & Julia, which I actually enjoyed. Today's subject: Potato and Bacon Chowder.

A while ago, I bought a five pound sack of potatoes for a dollar at Jewel-Osco. Mostly because five pounds of almost anything for a dollar is a pretty good deal. They sat on a shelf for a short while, because I had no idea what to make with them. I've made mashed potatoes before, but other than that, I have not really explored the versatility of the noble potato. A former housemate of mine (in the Jazz House at Allegheny) made potato soup every other day for a while (between "open events", which usually consisted of renting some part of Ken Burns' Jazz and buying some cheese), as her meal plan had run out and potatoes, evidently, are pretty universally cheap. Sure, you don't want to base your entire diet around it, particularly if you've got phytophthora infestans hanging around, but generally, potatoes are (apparently) pretty awesome. I ran with that, and decided to scour, where I'm getting all of these recipes, for a potato soup.

The problem with doing things that way is that while I'm trying to build up a base of general knowledge, there are endless variations on something simple like potato soup. If I had an extensive pantry, I guess I could try a number of these things. If I had, I don't know, an excess of kale hanging around (which, if I ever start a vegan-centric post-punk band, it's going to be called "An Excess of Kale"), I could make this nonsense. If I had chunks of bologna, I could make this provided I am ever able to regain an appetite having read the phrase "chunks of bologna". Do I have frozen peas, ground beef, and a willingness to discard the idea of making potato soup for a vague, faux-poetically named dish from someone who notes in their writeup that weather-themed birthday parties exist? Clouds at Sunset to the rescue. Having none of those things, I went with Potato Bacon Chowder for several reasons. First, making a chowder sounds more impressive than making a soup. Second, it involved bacon, which is more or less all I'm looking for in any recipe. It's a miracle that all of the food I make isn't just a substrate for bacon.

It actually turned out really well. I'll be making it again soon. It seems like it's cheating to use condensed soup as an ingredient for making soup, but it's cheap enough and the recipe makes roughly an enormous amount of potato soup, so I'm fine with that. Evidently, I've still got to work on my chopping skills, as Marina complained that the onions were too large (Which is probably true. Actually, I may have stopped chopping prematurely just because the onion was getting to me, and was bringing back very unpleasant memories of being in an undergraduate lab and working with benzyl bromide, which is a powerful lachrymator and the closest I've ever gotten to being tear-gassed.) I ate it with bread, mostly because I felt like symbolically kicking Robert Atkins in the shin. I didn't actually make that many alterations to the recipe (other than "how can I put even more bacon in this?"), but I'll get to that later, once I have a few more basic dishes under my belt.

More to come, either on food (because food is delicious) or something else (because something else makes this seem less like it's suddenly a culinary blog).