Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tactics and Strategies in the Game of Chefs

There are times where I find the simplest combinations to be unbeatable. For example, I'll take a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and a cold glass of milk over some over priced lamb chop. Yeah, I love grilled lamb chops and all, but it's up against very stiff competition. I could live off freshly brewed black coffee with some swiss chocolate. Just writing about it . . . . well, give me a minute while I run to the kitchen for some chocolate. Okay, I'm back. What is it I'm writing about?

Right. Combinations. I often experiment with combinations in soups, sauces and salads. Here is where you can try different things and see where it takes you. In fact, in a a previous post for a Carrot Cantaloupe Soup I discuss taking risks. However, there are times where you can make a new soup or sauce using a combination that is usually for a different application.

Am I confusing you?

If I am, think of something (not a soup or sauce) you make often. How about breakfast? You have eggs, bacon and homefries. The Sunday Morning Special at any greasy spoon for $5.99. We all know that potatoes and bacon are so good together -- why don't we mash them together? And wait! Sometimes I make potato skins stuffed with mashed potatoes, topped with bacon bits, cheddar and green onions. Can we take that concept and make a soup out of it? Sure you can.

Potato, Bacon and Cheddar (aka Piggyssoise)

8 Russet or Baking Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lb. bacon, roughly cut
2 Cooking Onions, roughly cut
3 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
Pinch of Allspice
150 g Cheddar (your preference of type), grated
1 Green Onion, cut into rings
100 ml Whipping Cream
3 L Vegetable Stock (recipe here)
Dab of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a tall soup pot, melt butter until frothy. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Move bacon to the side and add onion, garlic and allspice. Cook for another 5 minutes or until onions have a little colour. Add stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes (actually, it depends how small or large you cut your potatoes). Using an immersion blender, carefully puree until desired consistency. Add green onion. Whisk in grated cheddar and add cream. Taste then season. The bacon and cheddar have sodium so use salt sparingly.

Serves 10.

A Humble Chef's tip: if you have leftover mashed potatoes, use them for this recipe.

Variation: Bouneschlupp is a soup from Luxembourg that is very similar. However, add green beans and leave the soup as a chowder. Meaning that you should cut everything more uniformly, cook the potatoes in the soup and skip on liquefying it.

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