Roasted Chicken and Wild Rice Chowder

February 1, 2016




While it’s true that Lady Luck has not been on my side lately, I must admit to one bit of serendipity the past two weeks. Strangely, it came in the form of chowder. Or Chow-dah, if you are a Bostonite.

Maybe I’m clairvoyant, or maybe I’m like Old Farmer Brown whose bunions start pulsating the day before a heavy storm…I don’t know. Whatever the reason, the day before I whacked my skull into a bookcase, I had the sudden craving for a hearty bowl of chowder. The kind of chowder that’s chock full of goodies like vegetables and chunks of tender meat and comforting starchy stuff; the kind of chowder that’s the perfect antidote to a blustery day or a dark winter night. The kind of chowder that begs for a deep bowl and a sturdy hunk of bread.

Normally, when I need a chowder fix, I turn to this clam chowder, which is lovely and has seen me through many rough winters, but this time, I wanted something a little different. I wasn’t feeling very “seafoody,” if that makes any sense. Problem was, I knew I wasn’t in the mood for seafood but I didn’t know much else. I had no idea what I really wanted, other than something in chowder form.

When I’m indecisive like that, I reach into my shamefully large collection of cookbooks and poke around until something strikes my fancy. Sometimes this takes hours, because I get distracted by glossy pictures and cocktail recipes and then I look up and BAM! it’s dinnertime and I have nothing to show for it. Luckily, this time I was too obsessed by the thought of chowder to dilly-dally around.*

I came upon this recipe, clipped from a very old (as in 2003 old) issue of Cooking Light magazine. Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat, right? I must have made it sometime in the past, because I’d written the notation: Yummy but needs a little “zing.”  Hmph. Not really a very helpful notation there, was it, past self? What the Hell is “zing?” In the end, I decided that “zing” is vague-speak for more flavor and made a mental note to be more specific in the future when I scribble notes on a recipe.

Anyways. I scanned the recipe and it looked promising. The only thing that gave me pause was the serving size–the recipe serves 8 to 10 people. We are a family of 4 and only 2 out of those 4 people would even touch this chowder, since the girls don’t like soup and certainly don’t like soup with chunks of things floating in it.

This meant: hella lotta leftovers. Did I really want to be eating away on that huge vat-o-chowda for days upon end? And that’s what I’d have to do, because this chowder contains dairy, so I couldn’t freeze the leftovers for later consumption.

In the end, I decided to go for it, figuring that if I got sick of the stuff, I could tote some off to the neighbors (the ones who aren’t gluten-free or dairy-free or vegetarian. Wait, this is Boulder County. Do we even have neighbors like that? Oh well).

Since I wasn’t sure what kind of “zing” I needed to add, I started out making the recipe pretty much as written, although I increased the amount of of garlic and pepper called for and added fresh herbs instead of dried. I decided to throw in a bay leaf for good measure, and some chile flakes, because a little caliente never hurt anybody.

The chowder bubbled away and I took Mozzy out on a futile attempt to catch rabbits walk and by the time we returned, it was lunch time. I ladled myself a bowl and dug in greedily, burning my mouth as I always do because I’m a glutton and I never learn. It was worth it, though. Subtly flavored, creamy, chicken-studded goodness. I decided to add a few drops of Valentina hot sauce and some fresh parsley to my bowl, but purists might find this unnecessary. This isn’t a chowder that knocks you over the head with flavor; it sneaks up on you and cuddles you like a warm blanket. I was glad I’d made a big pot.

I was even gladder over the next few days, when I was out of commission with first a concussion and then several bruised ribs, courtesy of some stray computer cables/cords in the study. Oh, I was a pathetic creature, moaning on the couch, clutching ice packs and bottles of painkillers, barely able to hobble to the bathroom (to throw up said painkillers). I felt mighty sorry for myself.

My only solace? I had bowls and bowls of chowder to cry into.

My husband and the Minxes survived on takeout, but all I could manage to eat was that chowder. I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For days. And strangely, I didn’t get sick of it. It was exactly what I wanted to eat and it went down easy and stayed down, which is no small thing. In fact, I ate the entire pot and didn’t share it with even my husband. Go figure–even when I’m a useless, wailing invalid, my greed reigns supreme. Thank goodness he’s a forgiving man.

Don’t save this chowder for a run of bad luck and misery. Make it now, and share it with fellow chowder-lovers. Or don’t share it. I won’t tell anybody.







Roasted Chicken and Wild Rice Chowder

serves 8

adapted slightly from Cooking Light magazine


1 (6-oz.) box long-grain and wild rice mix (such as Uncle Ben’s)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped shallot or onion

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup diced carrot

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 ounces mushrooms, quartered

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence (if you don’t have this, you can leave it out)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1 bay leaf

2 cups water

2-3 tablespoons dry sherry (I liked a more pronounced sherry flavor but start with 2 tablespoons and adjust to your taste)

2 (15-oz.) cans reduced sodium chicken broth

1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk (the recipe calls for fat-free but the regular kind is so much better)

3 cups skinless roasted rotisserie chicken, shredded

dash of hot sauce (optional)

chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Prepare wild rice according to package directions; set aside.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, celery, carrot and mushrooms and saute until the shallot is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, herbs de Provence, tarragon, thyme, pepper, chile flakes and bay leaf. Cook a minute or two, stirring frequently. Add water, sherry, chicken broth and evaporated milk and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove bay leaf with a slotted spoon.

Stir in the cooked rice mixture and the chicken. Cook another 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.


**Where did the term “dilly dally” come from, anyways? And who uses it anymore? Clearly, I’m about 80 years old.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie February 1, 2016 at 10:59 am

I love that it includes Sherry! I find that it adds such a terrific spin to the underlying flavor and always wonder why I don’t use it in cooking more often. I’m glad you had bowls of soup to comfort your stomach and soul while hurting. Xoxo


Pam February 2, 2016 at 4:52 pm

I use the term dilly dally a lot. I also use a handkerchief, which may just prove I am 80 years old at heart. Wishing you a speedy recovery. That chowder sounds fabulous.


Tiffany February 19, 2016 at 2:19 pm

I want some.


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