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Corn and Bacon Chowder-Chili

The smoky flavor of bacon adds character to almost any chili, soup, or stew, and here, paired with corn and potatoes, it makes this chili extra-special. For a veggie version, simply skip the bacon, use 3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil to sauté the vegetables, and add a drop or two of liquid smoke.

Yield: serves 2 to 4

6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into ½ inch wide pieces
2 cups chopped onions
3 cups diced unpeeled russet potatoes (2 to 3 potatoes)
4 fresh green chiles, parched, peeled, stemmed, and chopped, or 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
4 fresh red chiles, parched, peeled, stemmed, and chopped (see Note)
2 cups fresh, frozen, or canned corn (if fresh, cut from 1 large ear of corn)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream or evaporated skim milk
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon crushed caribe chile

1. Place the bacon in a large saucepan or pot over medium to medium-low heat, and cook until it is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and set it aside.

2. Drain most of the bacon drippings from the saucepan, leaving just a thin layer on the bottom. Add the onions and potatoes and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the potatoes are slightly browned around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add the green and red chiles, corn, broth, milk, and cream and stir well. Add the cumin and salt, cover the pan, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

4. Stir in the bacon. Taste the chili and adjust the seasonings as needed, adding hot pepper sauce to taste (you can also pass it at the table, if you prefer). Serve sprinkled with the caribe chile.

Note: If you can’t find fresh red chiles, chop 1 jar (4 ounces) drained pimiento strips and add several drops hot pepper sauce to taste.

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