It's Christmas season in Charleston, and that can mean only one thing: Autumn has finally arrived.
What leaves we have are still in that three-month process of changing colors, and going for a swim in the Atlantic is starting to get uncomfortable. And while we still haven't gotten our first frost, the nights are occasionally cold enough that you can see your breath. Which means it's time for comfort food.
Two weeks ago I made chili, but this past weekend the kids wanted macaroni and cheese... or at least an improvised rotini version of said culinary standard. So I figured it was time to buy the annual brick of Velveeta and bask in some down-home, bad-for-you, Red-State obesity. I don't know what Velveeta is, mind you, but it doesn't take a degree in nutrition to recognize that whatever it is, it didn't come out of a cow. Cheddar is cheese. Velveeta is processed American cheese food -- not cheese. Cheese food. This isn't a dairy product -- it's more like the product of Betty Crocker's unholy union with The Military Industrial Complex in a secret Dow Chemical laboratory, circa 1964.
Last night, whilst trying to come up with something I could make with the last of the Velveeta, I invented this recipe for a kind of cheesy-chicken-corn-chowder, basing it on stuff that I happened to find lying around the kitchen. And man, it made me love some cold weather:
Unnatural cheese-and-beer chicken corn chowder
2 chicken breasts, fresh or frozen, cubed
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, cut up
1 big-ass clove of garlic, minced
stick of butter, more or less
1 can of corn, undrained
1 can Cream of Celery or Cream of Mushroom soup (I can't see that it matters)
About a quarter of a brick of Velveeta, cut up
Half-and-half (because I ran out of milk)
About a half-a-jar of Pimentos
Corona beer (or whatever brand you happen to be drinking while cooking)
- Throw the garlic in with the butter while you melt it in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken, cooking it until the surface pink is gone, followed by the onion and the potato. Keeping stirring it until the potato starts to soften just a bit.
- Add the corn and the Cream of Celery soup. Stir it up.
- Add the milk and the Velveeta bits, stirring until the cheese-food chunks dissipate. Go easy on the milk -- you're just trying to get the right thickness here.
- Pretty soon this stuff will start to get stiff. So pour some beer in there. This will cause it to foam up and it really improves the taste. What with the cheese and the suds, you'll think you're at a Packers game.
- Put in the pimentos and the Tabasco, to taste.
- Cook this stuff down over low heat until the potatoes get soft. It will want to thicken up on you, so keep feeding it beer. I finished it up with a little shot of Half-and-Half last night and was quite pleased with the artery clogging results.
I asked Janet what she thought, and she said "It's pretty good." Which kinda pissed me off. "Pretty" good? Hell baby, it's Velveeta and beer! Breakfast of champions, Midwesterners and Sumo wrestlers! You can do better than that!
Anyway, next stop, Earth Fare...