Roasted California Chilies and Garlic Chowder with Rosemary Sourdough Croutons
8 dried California chilies
2 bulbs of garlic
Olive oil to drizzle on garlic
1 1/2 tsp. corn oil
4 white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 3-4 inch sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
about 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
salt: to taste
6 cups fresh sourdough bread cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Roast the dried chilies in the oven for 30 seconds. Remove, reduce oven to 350 degrees.
Simmer the chiles in the pot of water until very soft.
While the chilies simmer, cut the tops of the heads of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast until soft. Set aside. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees. for the croutons.
While the garlic is roasting, drain chilies reserving a little bit of the liquid. Remove the chile stems and seeds. Puree the chilies in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, adding enough liquid to form a paste. Place in bowl; set aside.
In a large stockpot, heat the corn oil. Saute the potatoes and onions with the bay leaf and thyme over low heat for about 8 minutes.
Add the wine; deglaze the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes to let alcohol to evaporate. Add 1 cup of water,; simmer until vegetables are soft.
Squeeze the pulp from the garlic bulbs into the bowl of a food processor. Using a slotted spoon, add two-thirds of the potatoes and onions to the food processor bowl with the garlic. Process until smooth. Add the puree to the remaining vegetables.
Add the chile paste, the half-and-half and the salt to the chowder. Heat until just below simmer. Do not boil.
In a bowl, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil and rosemary. Spread the cubes on a foil line baking sheet; bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning often until toasted. While the croutons are still hot , toss with the Parmesan cheese.
Ladle chowder into bowls, top with croutons.