Monday, July 25, 2011

Smoked Bacon and Mushroom Chowder – Fuel for Dancing at the Crossroads

Pin It Summer arrived on Saturday – for one performance only.  The clouds of the past few weeks gave way to blue sky. The temperature nudged 20°C . It was perfect timing.  

Smoked Bacon and Mushroom Chowder - a 'souper' food

Cabinteely village was closed to traffic and a dance floor was erected in the street. Several local restaurants had set up stalls, with paella and meatballs from Las Tapas, and a range of Thai food from Pattaya. The Horse and Hound pub was five deep at the bar – almost unheard of since the smoking ban. The scene was set for the revival of an old custom - dancing at the crossroads – a tradition prohibited by the party pooping Public Dance Halls Act of 1935.
Hey! This is my airspace!

This community occasion would have been miserable in the rain. As it was, the temperature dropped to a chilly 10°C as the evening wore on. Dancing would have kept me warm but I had worn ridiculous shoes (a recurring theme) and I had to rely on this chowder to heat me up when I got home.  

For 6 - 8 servings you will need...
750g mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
10g dried porcini (optional) processed to a fine powder in a food processor
500mls chicken/vegetable stock
25g butter
150g onion, finely chopped
125g smoked bacon lardons
500mls milk
50g butter
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leafed parsley
A little extra chopped parsley for sprinkling over the top

1                    Put the sliced mushrooms (and dried porcini if using) in a medium saucepan and add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
2                    Meanwhile, melt 25g of butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and the smoked bacon lardons. Cook gently until the onion is soft and translucent. Transfer to a bowl.
3                    To the same large saucepan, add the milk, the remaining 50g of butter and the flour and stir with a whisk over a medium heat until thickened into a creamy sauce and starting to bubble – about 5 minutes. Strain the stock from the mushrooms into the creamy sauce. Add about 1/3 of the sliced mushrooms, then finely chop the remaining mushrooms and add them too. Finally, add the bacon and onion, along with salt, pepper, thyme and chopped parsley. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4                    Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with a generous sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.
This is even better next day, when the flavours have had a chance to develop further.
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