1 package (12 oz.) North Country Smokehouse Cob Smoked Bacon
2 medium ears fresh corn (or 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels)
3/4 pound red potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch cubes (2 ½ cups)
1 small russet potato, washed and cut into ½-inch cubes (1 cup)
32 ounces Central Market Chicken Broth
4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ cup finely diced carrot
½ cup diced white onion
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
½ cup finely diced celery
¼ cup flour
1 cup half-and-half
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup sliced green onions (2 medium)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly brown 8 strips bacon for about 10 minutes to medium-soft doneness. Drain bacon on a towel. Brown remaining 3 strips bacon until slightly crispy taking care not to overly brown to protect “cob” smoke flavor. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon drippings from skillet to sauté vegetables. Remove remaining drippings from skillet and wipe out dark browned bits with paper towel. Cut the medium-soft bacon strips into ½-inch pieces to add to chowder. Crumble the 3 crisp strips for topping chowder upon serving.
While bacon cooks, microwave corn in the husks for 3 minutes on high power. Cool in the husks.
Combine chopped potatoes, broth, butter, garlic, thyme and peppers in a Dutch oven; bring broth to a boil over medium heat and cook potatoes 10 minutes or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, dice carrot, onions, bell pepper and celery. Re-heat large skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes. Add reserved bacon drippings and 3 tablespoons butter to skillet. Sauté carrots 3 minutes. Add onions, celery and bell pepper and sauté 3 minutes.
Add vegetables and chopped, medium-soft bacon to Dutch oven. Stir and reduce heat to low.
Remove husks from ears of corn. Cut kernels from cobs and stir kernels into potato mixture.
Dissolve flour in half-and-half. Slowly pour and stir mixture into broth.
Cook chowder over low heat until thickened and hot. Do not boil. Stir in cheese until melted. (Soup may be thinned to desired consistency by stirring in 1 tablespoon of water at a time.)
Serve chowder in warmed bowls. Top with crumbled Cob Bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese and thinly sliced green onion tops as desired.