Turkey, Pancetta + Potato Leek Chowder in Rosemary Bread Bowls


There is soup, and there is chowder. Really glorious, hearty chowder. There is bread, and then there are bread bowls that make the whole hearty chowder experience infinitely more delicious. The part where you get to eat the bowl, that's the best part in my opinion. 

Creamy soups aren't usually my first choice. It seems too easy for the other ingredients to get overwhelmed by heaviness of the cream and then the flavors are lost. Turkey, pancetta, potato and leeks all hold their own in this chowder. We had bowl after bowl throughout the week, devouring the leftovers like it may not be possible to recreate another time. I love when we do recipes like this, Robert in charge of the chowder, while I handled the bowls. Bread bowls just seemed perfect for this time of year, and this particular meal. This recipe is relatively simple when it comes to yeast loaves. I've noted below that you'll want to be mindful of the flour, as it will change depending on humidity and other factors specific to your kitchen. As a loaf it has a very subtle flavor, as you don't want to overpower the flavors of your soup. That bit of fresh herbs, thyme and rosemary adds just enough to compliment the meal.

There's a good bit of harmony happening here. The chowder soaks into the rosemary bread, the turkey bits add a bit of saltiness. You'll be breaking the bread apart and diving in with your hands in no time. 

Turkey, Pancetta + Potato Leek Chowder
serves 4-6

2 large turkey legs
4 oz pancetta
3 small leeks, cleaned and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 lbs red potato, cut into 1/3 inch pieces (about 7 potatoes)
32 oz chicken stock
1 cup light cream
1 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tbs rosemary
1/2 tbs white pepper
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Remove turkey legs from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Pat dry and season generously with salt and pepper. On a small baking sheet, roast turkey legs for 10 minutes, rotate and roast for an additional 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue cooking for 10 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 160° when inserted into the thickest part of the meat. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cooled, remove skin and pull meat from bone. Reserve in large chunks for chowder.

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm 1/2 tbs olive oil until shimmering. Add pancetta and cook until crispy and brown, about 6 minutes. Remove pancetta and set aside. Add remaining 1/2 tbs olive oil and sauté until celery is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add potato, turkey, pancetta and stock, seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. When potatoes are tender, remove from heat, stir in cream, rosemary, and white pepper. Season with salt and pepper. 

Rosemary Bread Bowls
makes 4 bowls

The flour quantity in these will be entirely dependent on current temperature, humidity and other factors specific to your location. As you add your flour, take note of how the dough is reacting. You could need as little less than 3 cups, or as much as 3 ½.

1 package active dry yeast (.25 oz)
1 ¼ cup warm water, 110°F or 45°C
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
½ tbsp. fresh thyme
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 ¼ cup warm water. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. If using a stand mixer, use the dough attachment. Add salt, oil, fresh herbs and 2 cups flour and start mixing. Slowly add remaining flour, ½ cup at a time until the dough takes form. The dough should feel hydrated, and will be a bit sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Form into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, coating the dough when you place it in. Cover with a damp towel and set aside in a warm place to rise, about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare a greased baking sheet with cornmeal and set aside. Punch the dough down and divide into four even pieces and shape into rounds. Place on baking sheet and let rise in a warm place for 35-40 minutes, until doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to °400, and whisk together the egg white and water until blended. Brush each loaf with the egg white mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing. To make bread bowls, cut the top of the loaves off, about 1/2 inch down and scoop out the center. Pour chowder inside and serve immediately.