DENVER — Ingredients:
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, rinsed and peeled
¾ cup sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 large leeks, white part only
4 slices bacon
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 to 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Dash of white pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Chopped fresh chives, rinsed, for garnish
1 5-pound pie pumpkin (optional)
Slice potatoes into 1-inch cubes and transfer them to a large saucepan with just enough water to cover them. Cover and cook just until they are knife tender, about 5 to 7 minutes; drain. Slice the root ends and green parts from leeks and discard. Wash them well to remove sandy soil from between layers, chop, and set aside.
Slice bacon into ½-inch pieces and saute in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Stir in onion and leeks, and saute several minutes until they are soft. Pour in chicken broth, cover, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
Stir in cream and season with salt and white pepper. Gently stir in potatoes and sherry, cook until the chowder is hot, but do not boil. Ladle chowder into shallow bowls or cream soup cups and garnish with nutmeg and chives.
Yield: 8 to 10 first-course servings
Chef’s Note: Early in the day, rinse the pumpkin, cut a lid in the stem end, and reserve. Scrape out seeds and stringy pulp. Forty minutes before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin cut side up and the lid on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast 20-22 minutes until the top edge is browned, but the pumpkin is firm enough to serve as a container. Transfer pumpkin to a serving platter, pour in the chowder, garnish with nutmeg and chives, and replace the lid. Serve.
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