Friday, November 8, 2013

#REAL® Seal Keep Calm and Gobble On Challenge...Featuring Smoky Turkey-Pumpkin Chowder

I was recently invited to take part in the REAL® Seal Keep Calm and Gobble On Thanksgiving challenge. Participants are asked create and share Thanksgiving-inspired recipes using dairy products featuring the REAL® Seal label. Look for the REAL® Seal label pictured at left on a dairy product like milk, butter or cheese. If it’s there, you can be sure you’re getting a product that starts with milk that comes from cows from U.S. dairy farms that meet strict manufacturing requirements. When you see the REAL® Seal on a dairy product – whether in a store or restaurant – you can trust it’s the real thing…not an imitation.

I decided to use the REAL® Seal dairy trifecta – milk, butter and cheese – to create a hearty chowder featuring all my favorite Thanksgiving flavors. I don’t know about you, but we always seem to have a ton of turkey meat left after the big feast. I love a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich as much as the next gal, but I’m always looking for creative new ways to use my excess turkey. Now that it’s finally soup weather here in Texas, I was excited to come up with a chowder recipe so good that you’ll actually be looking forward to leftover turkey! What I came up with was my flavorful Smoky Turkey-Pumpkin Chowder.
This chowder is full of shredded turkey breast and chunky veggies like carrots, shallot, celery, potatoes and corn. It’s also flavored with fresh thyme and rosemary, two of my favorite Fall herbs. To make the chowder super creamy, I add milk, cream and a blend of cheddar cheese. My secret ingredients that take this chowder from the ordinary to the EXTRAordinary are canned pumpkin puree and a crunchy pepita-bacon topping. The pumpkin gives the soup an earthy sweetness, and the combination of toasted pumpkin seeds and bacon add flavor and crunch to each bowl.

Smoky Turkey-Pumpkin Chowder
A Weekend Gourmet Original
  • 3 slices center-cut lean bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted, salted pepitas
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1 large shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, either matchstick or 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups diced potato
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups shredded turkey breast
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ¾ cup milk (I used 2%)
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar blend cheese
Step 1: Add the chopped bacon to a 5-quart Dutch oven over med heat. [Hint: it’s easier to slice if you freeze it for 5-10 minutes beforehand.] Cook the bacon until crisp, then remove to a paper towel-lined bowl and reserve. Remove all but 1 tbs. of the bacon drippings from the Dutch oven. Add the butter, shallot, carrots and celery to the pan. Cook until the veggies are softened, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Add the potatoes, corn kernels, turkey, chicken stock, rosemary and thyme. Raise the heat to med-high and bring to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to medium. Cook covered for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.
Step 3: Turn off the heat. Uncover the Dutch oven and remove the rosemary and thyme stems. Add the cream, milk, pumpkin puree, and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and all of the ingredients are completely incorporated into the chowder.
Step 4: Add the roasted pepitas to the reserved cooked bacon and stir well to combine. Spoon the chowder into deep serving bowls. Top with ¼ cup additional shredded cheese and 1-2 tbs. of the pepita-bacon topping.
This chowder is so good! It’s a complete meal in a bowl that everyone will enjoy…it’s full of familiar flavors, but then it takes a bit of a left-turn. The pumpkin is a very subtle flavor, but it gives the chowder a nice earthiness. What takes this chowder over the top, though, is the pepita-bacon topping. I like to stir it into the chowder so it can provide a bit of smokiness and crunch. I hope that you’ll visit the REAL® Seal Dairy Facebook page, then seek out REAL® Seal dairy products to give my chowder a try this Thanksgiving.
Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card by REAL® Seal to purchase the ingredients for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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