By Rod Cohenour
It’s Fall and Time for Soups and Chowders!
The air is cooler, the breezes are rattling the leaves on the trees, and the nights may be downright chilly! Yessir, folks, it is time to turn our thoughts to tummy-filling, mouth-watering, yummy good soups, casseroles, and chowders. You know chowder, right? That twist on soup that is always creamier, may be cheesier, but is thick with good STUFF. For this, you just can’t beat my better half’s touch. She can whip up a pot of chowder that will leave you wanting the recipe before you finish that first bowl. Well, here is one of her best. Just after serving a nice big ham, you should NEVER discard the bone and the little stubborn tidbits that stick to it – hard to carve off. Miss Melindy’s got the solution and here it is…
MELINDA’S CHEESY HAM CHOWDERSeptember 2006
Meaty ham bone
Water to easily submerge bone
Reserved ham chunks to add to soup
4 Irish potatoes – peeled and sliced in ½” thick slices
3 carrots – peeled and sliced in ½” slices
3 spines celery – de-stringed, sliced lengthwise and finely chopped
1 large Bermuda or Spanish onion, sliced and diced
Pepper to taste
Celery salt – scarce ¼ teaspoon for this quantity
1 cup butter
1 cup flour
Pepper to taste
2 cups milk
Shredded cheese, preferably Cheddar – Monterrey Jack blend – full 8 oz bag for this quantity chowder.
1 can corn, drained
2 Tbsp dried parsley (less for fresh)
Prepare ham stock:
Simmer ham bone in water until tender and stock looks hearty. Remove ham bone, cool until capable of being safely handled. Remove ham from bone and cut in ¾ “ chunks. Stock should be poured into tall, narrow pitcher and refrigerated until fat rises to top and congeals. Remove fat.
Prepare chowder vegetables:
When stock has been de-fatted, pour into bottom of large Dutch oven and add sliced and chopped vegetables. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are crisp tender.
Prepare classic béchamel sauce: When chowder vegetables are cooked, prepare cheese sauce. Place butter in sauce pan and melt. When butter is completely melted, whisk in flour, season with pepper and dash celery salt. Permit to cook 1 minute while stirring to prevent scorching. This prepares the roux and rids the flour mixture of its “raw” taste. Begin adding milk slowly, whisking while adding. Bring mixture back to boil, stirring constantly. Do not permit to scorch. When béchamel sauce has thickened, remove from heat, add cheese and whisk briskly. This creates a thickened cheese sauce.
Add the cheese sauce to the hot stock and vegetables. Add the cubed ham, can of drained corn and parsley, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir until liquid is evenly velvety.
Serve hot with crisp salad, hot bread and fresh fruit for dessert. Serves 12 easily. To prepare for four reduce ingredient list as appropriate.