Whew! This Chipotle Sweet Potato Chowder is one that was tough to 'get right!' But I was determined. And persistence paid off.
The moment I came across this recipe in a magazine, I was intrigued. I had never thought of including sweet potatoes in a chowder, let alone making them the star of the show. Naturally, I had to give it a try. But ... it wasn't love at first bite.
It was 'hmmmm, this has possibilities' at first bite ... but, this chowder took some time to get to know.
So, what kept this from being instant love? The chipotle. The chipotle proved to be problematic.
Chipotle peppers add a totally fabulous, rich, smoky, and delicious flavor to this chowder. They also bring a lot of heat. And the original recipe? ... called for three chipotle peppers. Three. That's a lot of chipotle. But that's not all. The original recipe also called for the peppers to be added to the pot early in the preparation and simmered ... for the entire cooking time ... with all the other ingredients.
Okay. Let's think about that for a minute. Simmering the chipotles with everything else, well, leads to them being permeated throughout every nook and crevice of the entire chowder. With a lot of heat.
What happens when one takes a bite of completely-permeated-with-chipotle chowder, you ask? Well, absolute instant mouth fire. Like, fire-breathing-dragon mouth fire. With absolutely no escape from the heat. Broth? Hot! Sweet potato chunks? Hot! Drink of water to quench the flames? Still hot! And we love spicy food. But even with that, we couldn't handle the heat.
You'd think we'd have given up on this, right? But no. We actually really liked the flavor of the smoky chipotle chilies combined with the sweetness of the sweet potato. We just needed the heat turned down.
So I set out making batches with less and less chipotle. Result? Each one was still too hot.
So I tried a batch with no chipotle. Result? Boring, from a flavor perspective. Okay, so we had discovered that chipotle was indeed an important part of the chowder party.
Then it dawned on me. Why hadn't I thought of it before??
Don't simmer the chipotle! ... Add it at the end of the preparation!
I tried it ... And it worked. Alas, I had the answer! Use less chipotle, and add it at the very end of the chowder's preparation. Voila! The wonderful flavor combination of smoky chiptole and sweet potato, with some heat ... but good and flavorful heat instead of burn-all-the-taste-buds-off-your-tongue heat.
And now we have a Chipotle Sweet Potato Chowder we really enjoy.
See, persistence really does pay off.
Chipotle Sweet Potato Chowder
Source: Adapted from Real Simple magazine
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 c. (32 oz.) chicken broth
- 2 c. corn kernels (I use frozen)
- 1 c. whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 small canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely minced*
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook in a stockpot over medium heat until crisp. Spoon off the bacon fat, leaving just a small coating in the bottom of the pot.
- Add the diced pepper and onion to the bacon and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the sweet potatoes and chicken broth. Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the corn kernels, milk, salt, pepper, and chipotle chili; heat through.
*NOTE - The spicy heat of the chipotle can get away from you. I try to take very little of the adobo sauce along with the pepper, and choose one of the smaller peppers in the can. If you really like spicy food, select a larger pepper and/or leave a bit of adobo sauce on the pepper. You can freeze the remaining chipotle peppers for future use.