I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but we got a delightful warm spell here in Chicago over the weekend. My iPhone weather app confirmed it, the weather was in the high 70′s! It was wonderfully unexpected and you better believe that Oliver and I relished it. We made our first trip of the year to the Montrose Dog Beach. Oliver enjoyed it with exuberance – chasing dogs, rolling in the sand, and wading in the water.
And then, as quickly as the warm weather drifted in, it rolled out, replaced winter’s persistent winds and cold rain. It was if had never happened. I’d have thought it was a dream were it not for the trails of sand in my car.
And so I continue, reluctantly, to cook my favorite comforting, cold weather dishes. I know in a few months when the weather is prohibitive to baking and slow cooking I’ll be longing for my winter standbys, but for now crisp salads and cool, homemade lemonade sound divine.
This time I opted for chowder and whipped up an old favorite – Southwestern Clam Chowder. Inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light it’s just a touch indulgent, but full of flavor. I love how the corn, roasted bell peppers, and cilantro make it a fun change of pace from the more classical New England Clam Chowder. Enjoy it while you can because I’m keeping my fingers crossed that winter’s days are numbered.
-1 red bell pepper
-1 yellow bell pepper
-1 jalapeno pepper
-1 (16 ounce) container of frozen whole clams, defrosted
-1 slice bacon
-1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
-1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
-4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed red potatoes (skin on is fine, but potatoes should be thoroughly scrubbed)
-2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
-1 cup dry white wine
-3/4 cup half and half
-1/2 cup chopped green onions
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
-1/2 teaspoon Season All (optional)
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat broiler. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, and jalapeño pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten bell peppers with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place peppers in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard seeds and membranes from jalapeño pepper. Peel and chop bell peppers and jalapeño pepper; set aside. Drain clams in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add chopped onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes. Add flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in reserved clam liquid, potato, corn, wine, and clam juice; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until potato is tender. Stir in roasted peppers, clams, half and half, green onions, basil, Season All and black pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.