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Thursday, March 24, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Collard Greens are definitely a rare menu item outside the South, but they don't have to be in your diet! What can be wrong with bacon and greens--two of my favorite foods!
The traditional recipes use a smoked ham hock, but since my husband and I had recently taken a butchering class offered by the Pig Wizard, we have cuts from half a pasture-rasied pig in our freezer (it actually fit in our refrigerator freezer!). A few portions went home with the Pig Wizard to cure, since he has the set-up. After sampling some dried, cured meats he brought along, ours will be well worth the wait!
I cannot speak highly enough of the incredible opportunity it was to better connect with our food and play a role in the process of bringing it to our plate. The 8-hour class was an eye-opening experience to see inside our food and how to parse it into cuts. There were no cleavers and we only used the saw a couple of times--with finesse of the knife and careful work, you can render elegant cuts. This was respectful butchering and in its craftsmanship and skill, an art form.
We devoured the carnitas we made from the butt or pork shoulder--omg is fresh, quality pork sweet and delicious! We cut out the shoulder blade that was embedded in our carnitas meat and reserved it for our collards, leaving some meat attached. This is a great use for the bone if you buy a bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt, which is often the case in some markets.
To supplement the pork bone, which we felt was a little sparse, we added a pound of bacon. Yes, a full pound. And it was awesome.
The collard greens are a hearty green you can find around the chard and kale. They are related to broccoli and cabbage, so they have similar benefits such as vitamins A, C, and K, and calcium. These veggies are also potent cancer fighters, as a 2006 study published in Cancer Research indicates:
Epidemiologic evidence suggests that high dietary intake of Brassica vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, protects against tumorigenesis in multiple organs. 3,3'-Diindolylmethane, one of the active products derived from Brassica vegetables, is a promising antitumor agent.Collard Greens recipes involve boiling the collards, but don't leave that liquid behind when you serve them! Don't throw out the baby OR the bathwater in this case! That liquid, called "pot liquor" or "potlikker," is an extremely nutritious broth with the vitamins leached from the cooked greens. The loss of nutrients is one reason why I never boil or blanche my veggies, except in a soup--I try to keep as much of the nutrients in the food as possible and if they are released during cooking, I make sure to use that liquid. In the case of pot liquor, it is rich and delicious--you don't want to waste a drop!
My husband was the driver in this recipe--and boy am I lucky to feast on this incredible creation of his! He scoured the recipes out there and mashed together the ingredients we like best. I took the revered role as sous chef and taster. He is a great cook, and cooking together is so much fun, even in our small kitchen. We always manage to wind up laughing and having a good time. Just sharing the time together is infinitely precious.
So without further ado, here is our recipe:
Collard Greens and Bacon
Healthy, hearty greens paired with bacon--this is a heavenly match you'll soon devour!
Prep Time: 15min. or less
Cooking Time: 2hrs, give or take
- 3+ big bunches of collard greens
- uncooked ham bone from a bone-in roast, with some meat attached (great for using the bone from pork butt/shoulder leftover when making carnitas!)
- 1lb nitrate-free bacon, diced
- garlic powder
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- a large stock pot
The first step is the stock: toss in your ham bone, diced bacon, and all the seasonings--you can wing the amount based on how much you are making at once. We used about 2T garlic, 20 pepper grinds, 2t salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes, initially, then we added more to taste once the collards were about done. Add 3-4 quarts of water and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an hour.
Once the hour is up and your house smells amazing, you can add the collards. Here's how to prepare them: wash them twice to remove any sediment (we've heard that they are notoriously dirty and need a good rinsing), then strip the leafy greens from the woodier parts of the stem using one hand to hold the stem and the other to make a fist around the stem and pull up to the top of the leaf, stripping the leafy green from its stem (I use this method for making my kale chips with dinosaur kale and it saves SO much time!). Stack the leaves and cut the collards into wide strips. You can stop there and add the strips to the pot or add another slice to break apart long tangles. Many of ours after cooking became a large dice--think stamp-sized--but there were still some noodley strips that were more difficult to fit on a spoon.
Add all the collards to the pot--you really can't go wrong with adding a ton--we wish we added more to ours because they were delicious! Stir to help get them all in the liquid and simmer the pot for another hour--less if you want more chewy leaves and at least an hour if you want them meltable. Stir every now and then to break apart tangles and feast on that delicious aroma up close. Taste and add any more seasonings as desired. They're done once you reach your desired tenderness of the greens. Serve in a bowl as a soup alongside your main meat or add the cooked meat right in. This as a chicken soup is amazing!
This dish is absolutely, lip-smacking delicious--which is definitely saying something considering it's a healthy, green vegetable! Hope you enjoy it too!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
That title is a mouthful. I could also add any number of modifiers such as "delicious," "mouthwateringly delectable," and just plain old "awesome," but I think the name includes the most important bits.
This recipe is dead simple: poke holes in the brisket and shove in some garlic cloves, season, throw in a load of sliced mushrooms and more garlic cloves, and slow cook away for a day or overnight (8hrs). I originally watched Emeril way back when garlic stud his roasts and loved the idea. I've used it before in my recipe: Not Your Mama's Pot Roast. It is a great way to flavor the meat and insert little pockets of meltable deliciousness into the beef.
And wow is the outcome amazing! The garlic beefiness just fills the house and wafts outside to make your neighbors jealous. And everything about the finished meal is delicious--the rich, savory jus (or juice as in au jus--"with [it's own] juice") created just from the beef and the mushrooms, the garlicy mushrooms and spreadable garlic cloves, and the tender, shred-able beef that stays moist and flavorful, especially when drizzled with jus and topped with mushrooms. Yum!
Don't Fear the Fat!
Check out that beautiful yellow fat in the photos. Remember the advice we've all heard to choose brightly colored vegetables? Well, here is the same idea holding true for meat. That yellow fat is chock full of vitamin A and E and healthy fats (as opposed to not-so-healthy fats like vegetable oils and seed oils that overbalance our omega-6:omega-3 ratio). White fat of feedlot beef is not only less nutritious, but it also carries a heavy toxic load since the fat is the storage place for most of the crap we pump into those poor, sick cows to keep them alive long enough to fatten them up for slaughter.
On the other end of the spectrum, both in terms of nutrition and humane, sustainable husbandry is grass-fed (and finished) beef from pastures. Its fat is healthy fat, full of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and great for recovery from exercise and inflammatory ailments (hence many use fish oil supplementation). According to Eat Wild (a source for finding local pastured products), CLA may fight and reduce the risk of cancer. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA is closer to our ancestral eating profile, which is how our digestive tract evolved and how it still functions today despite the disconnect most people have between their anatomy and their diet. Enjoy what nourishes, not harms.
Bottom line: Don't shy away from eating healthy fat!
Without further ado, I give you Simple Slow Cooked Garlic Studded Grass-fed Beef Brisket with Mushrooms:
Simple Slow Cooked Garlic Studded Grass-fed Beef Brisket
The simple combination of minimal ingredients and fuss-free slow cooking create a delicious meal fit for a holiday feast or simple weeknight leftovers you actually look forward to!
Cooking Time: Start to finish, about 8.5hrs but 8hrs of that are spent unattended while slow cooking
- grass-fed beef brisket (we used about a 3-lb brisket--you could probably use any similar cut of roast)
- lots of garlic cloves (to save time and effort, you can buy whole, peeled garlic cloves*)
- lots of sliced mushrooms (to save time and effort, you can buy these sliced as well*)
Add 1-2 packages of sliced mushrooms (or about 3-6 cups if you prepare them yourself) to the bottom of the slow cooker pot. Depending on the size of your brisket and your slow cooker, leave enough room for the brisket to sit on top of the mushrooms and still lid the pot. Add some whole garlic cloves to the mushrooms and distribute them.
Prepare the brisket by creating deep slits with your knife and inserting a garlic clove in each. Try to get good coverage and be as thorough as you have the patience for. Turn over the brisket and repeat on the underside and then try to get as many in the sides of the meat as possible. Once finished, sprinkle on salt and pepper and rub it around the brisket to season it.
Place the brisket on top of the mushrooms and add another package or 3 cups of mushrooms on top and around the sides--basically jam in as many mushrooms as you can fit--remember, they cook down and they are adding some of the moisture that is keeping the roast tender and juicy. Add any remaining garlic cloves you had leftover from the brisket studding or if you just want to add some more you have around, feel free--the more the merrier! The garlic roasts into a mellow, spreadable deliciousness, so fear not!
Now, set your slow cooker to Low for 8hrs and walk away. Your job is done until the time comes to unlid the pot and feast! Hope you enjoy this as much as my husband and I did!
* I know hard-core cooking purists will cringe at the use of any convenience foods like sliced mushrooms and peeled garlic cloves, but if it helps more people cook real food for themselves and their families by cutting corners in minimal areas (they are still using one-ingredient-on-the-label foods), then that is a win in my book. I'd rather offer an approachable recipe than frustrating those who are time-crunched with yet another recipe that takes too long to even try. And this recipe is well worth the minimal effort required!