Smoked chicken chowder is great when there's a chill in the air. (Kate Lawson / The Detroit News)
Keego Harbor Sausage on Orchard Lake Road is on my must-stop list usually on Saturday mornings after I visit the farmers market. First I go and grab the produce, then it’s on to the protein.
I am always pleasantly surprised by what proprietor Mark Hearn has in the meat case. The usual favorites, sweet Italian sausage and fire-roasted tomato and basil chicken sausage, are always there, but then Hearn will have added some concoction that he must dream up while shaving. I’ve enjoyed an amazing blue cheese martini sausage complete with green olives, and just last week he created a pumpkin sausage that was pure genius.
But sausage isn’t the only thing Hearn excels in. He knows his way around the smoker blindfolded and comes up with a luscious smoked corned beef and a smoked chicken that puts those supermarket rotisserie birds to shame.
My husband doesn’t care for the wings, so I have license to rip them off and make quick work of them in the car on the way home. Sometimes I simply slice up the chicken and serve with a fresh green salad for dinner. But last week, when there was a decided chill in the air, I made this chowder.
All I can say is keep on smokin’ Mark.
Smoked Chicken Chowder
3 medium onions, chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
½ cup vegetable oil
1 large baking potato
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh jalapeño chili, seeded and minced fine
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley leaves
½ canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced fine (about 1 teaspoon)
1 ½ whole smoked chicken breast, skin and fat removed and meat cut into ½-inch dice
In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook the onions in oil over moderate heat stirring, until softened. Peel and cut potato into ¼-inch dice. To kettle add potato, garlic and jalapeño, and cook, stirring 1 minute.
Stir in flour and cook over moderately low heat, stirring 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups broth and heavy cream and bring to a boil stirring.
Add tomatoes, corn, Monterey Jack, parsley, chipotle and chicken, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding enough of remaining cup broth to thin soup to desired consistency, 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Makes 8 cups.
Per serving (per 1 cup): 553 calories; 42 g fat (18 g saturated fat; 68 percent calories from fat); 24 g carbohydrates; 131 mg cholesterol; 520 mg sodium; 22 g protein; 2 g fiber.