A quick and delicious way to use leftover cooked poultry
Have leftover cooked chicken or turkey? Need a warming, comforting dish to chase away the chill? Try this chowder. It’s a spicy mix of ingredients that you may already have on hand. Perfect pantry cooking!
Best thing about this dish is it’s ready in under an hour, start to finish. And you can freeze leftovers, so you’ll have another meal ready to go in minutes.
Winter never tasted so good.
Recipe: Southwest-Style Chicken (or Turkey) Chowder
Say “chowder,” and we often think seafood (especially clams or fish). But “chowder” is really just a generic name for a hearty stew – typically one that is cream- or milk-based, usually thickened with potatoes.
We call our recipe southwest-style chowder because we use ingredients often associated with that section of the US: In this case, two types of green chile peppers, plus dried chile powder, cumin, and garlic.
If you don’t have leftover cooked chicken or turkey on hand, you can substitute supermarket rotisserie chicken. Just cut up as much as you need for this dish, then reserve the rest for another use. The measurements and ingredient list for this recipe are flexible – so substitute at will.
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Cooking time adds another 30 minutes or so, much of it unattended.
Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container (or for 2 to 3 months in the freezer).
- 4 strips bacon, cut into pieces of about ½ inch
- 1 medium onion, cut into dice of about ½ inch
- 1 red bell pepper, cleaned, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
- salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon kosher salt for us, but see Notes)
- 2 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices or minced finely
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, cleaned, deseeded, and chopped finely (see Notes)
- ~8 ounces green chile peppers (mild or hot), roasted, seeded, and diced (Hatch chile peppers work well; see Notes)
- ~12 ounces “boiling” potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch dice (peeling optional)
- ~2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 to 3 teaspoons dried chipotle chile powder (to taste; may substitute ancho chile powder)
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin (or to taste)
- 2 to 3 cups chicken or turkey stock
- ~2 cups frozen sweet corn
- 1 to 2 cups heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk
- a good-sized handful of cilantro, cleaned and chopped
- garnish of extra chopped cilantro or jalapeño slices
- Place the bacon in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan or soup pot over medium stovetop heat. Sauté until the bacon pieces are crisp and brown. Then remove the bacon from the cooking pot with a slotted spoon and set aside (we usually drain the bacon pieces on paper towels).
- Add the onion and red bell pepper to the rendered bacon grease in the cooking pot, salt to taste, and sauté for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add the garlic, jalapeño peppers, and roasted green chilies. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the potatoes, along with the chicken or turkey. Add the dried chile powder and cumin, and stir to combine. Then add the chicken/turkey stock and stir again. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cook for 10 to 15 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked through).
- Add the sweet corn and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked bacon (from Step 1) and the cream or milk. Simmer for a minute or two, until the flavors are combined (adjust the amount of cream/milk depending on how thick you want the chowder to be). Taste, then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Stir in the cilantro, then ladle up the chowder. We often garnish with extra chopped cilantro or a jalapeño slice atop each bowl.
- We generally use thick-cut bacon when making this dish. You could substitute a quarter pound or so of diced salt pork if you wish (salt pork is actually traditional in many chowders). Sauté the salt pork in olive oil to brown it.
- The seeds and oil of jalapeño peppers can be quite hot. So we suggest wearing gloves when preparing them: The easiest way is to cut off the stem ends of the peppers, slice the peppers in half, and then use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds and white membrane. Then mince the peppers. If you don’t wear gloves, be sure to wash your hands to remove the spicy oil from your skin.
- We like to use Hatch chilies in this dish, but you could substitute poblano or Anaheim peppers (both of these are milder, but have good flavor). Fresh Hatch chilies are available only in late summer, so we often buy a mess of them when we can, then preserve them for later. We typically roast the chilies under a broiler (or outside, on the grill), then remove their skins and seeds, cut the chilies into dice, and freeze them. Poblano and Anaheim peppers are always available in our local supermarkets. So if we use those, we roast and deseed them just as we do Hatch peppers, but don’t freeze them.
- You can also buy canned Hatch chile peppers. They aren’t nearly as flavorful as the ones you roast yourself, but they work OK (and they’re a great pantry staple).
- The amount of liquid we add to this dish varies, depending on how thick we want the chowder to be that day. If you like a lot of liquid but still want a thick chowder, you can add a bit more potato to the dish, then use an immersion blender to break up the pieces and give the chowder more body. (Do this after Step 3.) Be sure to use an immersion blender with a steel shaft; plastic ones can crack in hot liquid (ask us how we know).
- Speaking of potatoes, we prefer to use a “boiling” type (like Yukon Gold) in this dish. But russet potatoes will work in a pinch.
- We used cream in the batch of chowder that we photographed for this post because we had some left over from the holidays. We sometimes use milk instead (it works well, although the flavor of the chowder isn’t quite as rich).
- Frozen sweet corn is high quality, and we always have it on hand. You could probably substitute canned corn if you wish. Just drain and rinse it before adding it to the chowder.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the flakes are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you use table salt in this dish, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- We find this chowder sufficient for weeknight dinner (OK, maybe we’ll have a second bowl). If you need more, we suggest adding a salad or some bread. Cornbread is particularly nice with this dish.
“Say it louder, we love chowder!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“And we didn’t have to clam up for it,” I said.
“So chowder-ed you come up with this recipe?” said Mrs K R.
“It just came naturally to a souper hero like me,” I said.
“Careful you don’t go overlord, kitchen boy,” said Mrs K R.
“I have your tongue to keep me in check, my little chile pepper,” I said.
“Which tongue is longing for another dose of this heavenly dish,” said Mrs K R.
Yup. Cause it’s chowder this world.
You may also enjoy reading about: