Thursday, 4 October 2007

If You Can't Take The Cheat, Then Get Out Of The Kitchen

It's OK to cheat once in a while. All chefs do it somewhere in their kitchen. It's unavoidable. There are somethings where a corner can be cut and customers usually won't even notice. Muffins and cookies are usually made from frozen batters. Pastries are made in pastry shops and shipped in. Salad dressings are tricky: some restaurants insist on making all dressings in-house while others couldn't be bothered.

It boils down to money. Is it cheaper to have one of the cooks make the dressing from scratch or just order the damn stuff? Like Caesar. Thousand Island. Balsamic. Whatever.

Soups and stocks is another gray area where it may be easier and more cost effective to simply purchase soups either in a can or in the form of powder. Consumme for example is a pain in the ass to make and if made improperly, it can go cloudy. Or you can buy the can and the product may even better than something made in-house.

This is a recipe from my mother-in-law. It is extremely easy because you mostly put together canned items. She makes this soup every Thanksgiving and it is always a hit with the family. Truth is that it is the item that we finish off first. I like it for it's ease and simplicity and it's usually one less thing I have to cook on Thanksgiving.

So this is a first: a recipe that is not my own at all. In fact, I would even make it a little bit differently but that's OK. It is probable that I may get grief for posting a recipe from my mother-in-law first and not from somebody else. So, without any further ado . . .

The Port Carling Thanksgiving Special

350 ml Canned Cream of Corn
700 ml Cream of Mushroom Soup
350ml 2% Milk
1 Spanish Onion, medium dice
2 Stalks of Celery, medium dice
1 Red Bell Pepper, medium dice
100g Mushrooms, sliced
250g Bacon, roughly diced
Pinch of Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a soup pot, on medium heat, saute bacon until most of the fat is rendered. Add onion, celery, pepper, mushroom and chili powder and cook for 2 minutes. Add milk, canned corn and canned mushroom and bring to a scald. Adjust to seasonings and let your spouse try it to confirm. Just this one time.

Makes 1.5 l.

Serves 8.

Variations: Naw. Why bother with this classic? I mean, you could add potatoes for some heartiness, or some canned clams for a nice twist, or perhaps even add Sage Oil for a garnish but . . . then you would be adding work. And for a recipe that designed to save on time and effort, it seems slightly incongruous to make work for yourself.

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