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Rancho Winslow Supper Club Recipes

Two popular soups

By Mick Vann, Fri., Feb. 21, 2014

Rancho Winslow's Cajun Red Beans & Rice
Rancho Winslow's Cajun Red Beans & Rice
Photo by Mick Vann

Soup with Cheese and Rajas (Sopa de Elote)

Serves 6 to 8

We made this for years at Clarksville Cafe, and the customers loved it. It's popular at the Supper Club, too, with corn right out of the garden. Traditionally, the soup is made using fresh sweet corn that's cut off the cob; the corn could be boiled, steamed, or grilled (which will add a little smoky flavor reminiscent of elote, or grilled Mexican-style street corn). Scrape the cobs completely to extract every little bit of pulp. Frozen corn can be used as a shortcut. The key to a smooth texture is to blend the soup, and then force it through a sieve with the edge of a kitchen spoon, to extract the pulp, without the skins from the kernels. Some folks skip this step, claiming it's not critical to the taste. The traditional presentation is that the soup is loaded with rajas, or strips of roasted and peeled poblano chiles. Slackers skip this step and use roasted and peeled green chile instead. When peeling roasted chiles, use the back of a knife blade to scrape off the charred flesh; running under water to remove the charring diminishes the roasted flavor. Garnish it with melting Mexican-style cheese and fried tortilla whiskers.


Garnishes

4 fresh poblano chiles

6 corn tortillas, sliced in half, julienned

Rice bran or vegetable oil, for frying

Salt and powdered ancho chile

2 cups shredded asadero, Chihuahua, Monterrey jack, or pepper jack cheese, for garnish


For the Soup

1 cup chopped onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups rich chicken broth

6 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained, about two 1-pound bags

1 cup half and half

1 cup heavy cream

Pinch dried Mexican oregano

Salt and ground white pepper


Advanced Preparation

1) Place the poblano chiles over a flame and rotate to char-blister the entire exterior. Place in a paper bag, or in a bowl covered with a towel, and let steam. When cool, use the back of a knife and scrape off the charred and blistered skin. Cut the chile open and remove seeds and membranes. Slice the chile meat into thin slices, known as rajas, and reserve for garnishing.

2) Heat oil in a skillet to 365°F. Working in batches, quickly fry the tortilla julienne until crispy, about 15-30 seconds. Immediately remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle lightly with salt and ancho powder. Reserve in a cool, dry place.


Cooking Method

1) For the soup, heat a medium pot over medium-high heat and swirl in the butter to melt. Add the onion and garlic to the butter and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the flour to make a light roux and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the corn, bring back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the half and half and the cream and bring back to a simmer.

2) Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Strain the pureed corn into a sieve and, using the back or edge of a big kitchen spoon, force the corn pulp through the sieve to extract the pulp; discard the solids left in the sieve.

3) Assemble the soup by combining the mixed liquids, with the sieved corn pulp over low heat. Stir in the reserved poblano chile rajas and the oregano. Let the soup heat back up, simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop and taste for seasoning, adding salt and ground white pepper if necessary.

4) Ladle the soup into thick bowls and garnish each with shredded cheese and a small pile of crisp tortilla whiskers.


Notes

One medium ear of corn will yield about ¾ cup of kernels. If grilling the corn, heat the grill to medium. Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base but do not remove. Strip away the silk from each ear. Fold husks back into place, and place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes. Remove corn from water, place in a colander with the tip facing down, and let drain in a colander. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks and reserve for making the soup.


Cajun Red Beans & Rice

Serves 8 to 10 (or 5 hungry Cajuns)

The classic Cajun dish for Mondays, which was traditionally wash day. Cajun women would put on a pot of red beans and rice to simmer while they did the laundry; it was a dish that required little attention and one that anyone could pass by the stove and load up on without a lot of fuss. Chris and Diane occasionally have allspice bushes for sale at It's About Thyme Nursery; if they do, don't hesitate to buy one.


Ingredients

½ pound smoked bacon, diced

¼ cup chopped tasso (substitute ham, if unavailable)

1½ cups chopped onions

¾ cup chopped celery

¾ cup chopped green bell peppers

1 pound andouille or chaurice sausage, 1-inch dice (substitute kielbasa or Portuguese chorizo)

3 tablespoons chopped garlic

1 pound dried Camellia red beans, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed, and picked over for stones

4 cups chicken stock

3 cups water

½ teaspoon cayenne (or more, to taste)

2 bay leaves

¼ to ½ teaspoon ground allspice (or 1 fresh allspice leaf)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons fresh thyme (substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

2 tablespoons dark roux (optional)

½ teaspoon salt, to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups cooked long-grain white rice

½ cup chopped green onions, garnish

Shaker of cayenne, for garnish

Shaker of Creole seasoning, for garnish (optional)


Cooking Method

1) In a large pot, sauté the bacon over medium-high heat until fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to brown. Add the tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the andouille sausage and sauté about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute.

2) Add the soaked red beans, chicken stock, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the cayenne, bay, allspice, thyme, and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally over medium-low heat, uncovered, until the beans are tender and the stew starts to thicken, about 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add ½ cup of water at a time. If adding the optional roux, make sure the roux is hot before whisking it slowly into the stew.

3) Using the back of a large spoon pressed against the interior of the pot (or using an immersion blender), mash or puree about a fifth to a quarter of the beans in the pot. Cook while stirring occasionally for an additional 20 minutes, or until the beans are thick and creamy.

4) Serve over hot rice and garnish with minced green onions and a sprinkle of extra cayenne. Some folks use a hot sauce like Tabasco, Louisiana (red dot), Crystal, or Trappey's; personally, I don't like the vinegar flavor it adds to the stew, preferring the cleaner finishing heat of cayenne. Some folks like to garnish with a light sprinkle of Creole seasoning, for an extra flavor boost right at the end. Popular brands include Zatarain's, Tony Chachere's, Rex, and Konriko.


To make your own Creole seasoning, combine:

2 tablespoons hot paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

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