Monday, January 19

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder

I have never cared for cauliflower. So flavorless, so boring. But when I discovered several years ago that I could substitute it for things I once loved but no longer eat - like mashed potatoes and pizza crust - I was an instant convert. This chowder replaces super starchy potatoes with much less starchy cauliflower and cuts the calories in half. In my book that means you can add a little extra bacon and cheese :) Enjoy!
8 slices center-cut bacon, chopped (half used for garnish)
1/2 small onion, chopped OR 1 teaspoon onion powder
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
4 cups shredded or grated cauliflower (1/2 large head)
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups 2% milk
3-4 dashes hot sauce (or more or less)
2-1/2 cups (12oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided (half used for garnish)
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
Start the Bacon-Cheddar Cauliflower Chowder by chopping 1 celery stalk and 2 garlic cloves. (I used my food processor.) Remove the celery and garlic to a plate or bowl, then add 1/2 head of cauliflower to the food processor and pulse to "rice." This should equal 4 cups.
Next, chop up 8 strips center-cut bacon, to be used in both the chowder and as a garnish. Then grate 2-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese to be used in both the chowder, and as a garnish.
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and let it cook low and slow until it’s nice and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, then remove all but 1 Tablespoon drippings from the pot.
Next add the chopped celery and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the celery is nice and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower to the pot, along with 1 teaspoon onion powder and 2 Tablespoons water, then season with more salt and pepper, and place a lid on the pot to steam the cauliflower until tender. This will take between 5-7 minutes, continue to stir.
Once the cauliflower is tender, add in 1-3/4 cup chicken broth and 2 cups 2% milk. Also throw in a dash (or many dashes) of your favorite hot sauce. This will give the chowder a fabulous flavor, and pretty orange color.
Bring the chowder up to a boil then slowly drizzle in 2 Tablespoons flour whisked into 1/4 cup chicken broth while stirring constantly. Finally, turn off the heat then stir in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese until smooth, then stir in half the cooked bacon. Taste, then add more salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce if necessary. Ladle the thickened, cheese and bacon-laced cauliflower chowder into bowls, then top with remaining shredded cheese, cooked bacon, and sliced green onions.

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