Culinary Improvisation

It seems that I’m an improvisational culinary genius. I’ve always been the type of cook that sort of throws things together based on recipes and stuff I have learned over the time I spent cooking in restaurants. Learning the basics was in a commercial kitchen, the behind the scenes prep work, and the actual stressful, time management, high pressure stuff, is something not a lot of home cooks get to do. So I have a little advantage there. But my favourite thing is to experiment with what I have in my house. The funny thing is the other day I got to experiment with what was in my mother’s kitchen, about 600km away.

She called me up, wanting me to google a recipe for a cream of potato type soup, as her computer was busted. I decided to not bother, and asked her if she had a few key ingredients.

  • Bacon
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken, or in this case, Turkey, stock

For the number of people she was feeding, I had her use about 8 medium potatoes, half of them peeled. Potatoes cut in bite sized pieces, the peeled ones cooked in enough stock to cover them. Cooked until tender, but not falling apart. At the same time, 1/4 of a pound of bacon cut 1/2 inch wide, started on medium-low heat, so the fat would render out, and a medium onion diced about the same size added with a couple of cloves of garlic. The goal is to get the bacon rendered down, the onions translucent, but to not brown anything.

I had her put about 2 cups of stock in the crock pot with the rest of the potatoes, on medium, with 1.5tbsp dried thyme and 1.5tbsp dried sweet basil, and a fairly generous amount of cracked black pepper. Salt is pretty important with potatoes, but depending on the stock and person taste, I had her add just a tbsp to the crock pot and let people adjust it. When the potatoes in stock on the stove were cooked, I had her puree them using a hand blender, but a regular blender would work as well. Added to the crock pot, and then the onions and bacon. I don’t know if there was enough liquid, I suggested that she either add stock and maybe thicken it with a little flour and cold water (about 2 tbsp of flour well mixed in 1/2c cold water), or to cook a couple more potatoes and puree them. You could add milk or cream instead.

To make sure the potatoes in the chowder were done but not mush, I had her keep the crock pot on med-high until they were barely fork tender, then turn it down to low.

There are a variety of tasted to cater to, so having crackers, cooked frozen peas or corn, bacon bits and cheddar, or whatever you feel like adding, makes this a pretty sure bet when it comes to pleasing people.

It went over well! Simmered for a couple of hours in the slow-cooker, everyone loved it on a snowy evening! I just wish I had been there to sample my long-distance improvisation!!


~ by Trillian on 02/04/2011.

3 Responses to “Culinary Improvisation”

  1. Hey, Check out my entire blog on Improvisational Cooking.
    Seems right up your alley!

  2. ‘Soup’ itself is a slightly funny word if you think about it, but a hot bowl of potato soup like that (with a little bacon and cheese on top) would be a swell meal!


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