Monday, October 22, 2012

Caribbean Collard Greens

Honestly, I'm not quite sure why these should be called Caribbean Collard Greens, but that's what the recipe said on the back of the big bag of chopped collards.  Since I know next to nothing about Caribbean cuisine, I'll just go along with the collard greens people. (I just did a little research.  I think it's the cloves and nutmeg).

Here's what you do ...

Saute an onion, 2-3 sticks of celery, and a couple of cloves of garlic in a little olive oil.

When the onions are soft, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika, a pinch to a quarter teaspoon of cloves and nutmeg, fresh ground sea salt to taste, and if you want a little more jazz, a shake or two of cayenne.  Make sure you use smoked paprika.  It has a very distinctive flavor.

Put in, a handful at a time, your collard greens.  I use a very large cast iron skillet or my trusty cast iron Dutch oven.  It's the perfect cookware for collard greens.  Do you notice I'm not giving you measurements here?  I thought so.  That's because I have no idea how many collard greens you want to eat.  We eat a lot of them.  When we had more people living here, I cooked the whole bag.  Now, I cook at least a half a bag,  keep the leftovers in the fridge and happily eat them several days in a row.  You will want to adjust your spices to the amount of greens you cook.  The amounts mentioned above are for half a bag.  Anyway ...

... as you put the collards in your pot, stir them around so the onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, spice mix coats them and mixes all through.  The collards will begin to wilt and cook down and you'll be able to add more to you pot.  Once you have them all in and stirred and coated, add some chicken stock.

Whenever I cook a chicken (or cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken at the store) and have the carcass left over, I make broth.  It's easy.  My friend, tonia, will tell you how.  She'll also tell you how to brine and roast a chicken.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page to get to the broth directions.  It is also not that hard to do.  (I'm going to keep telling you this).

Back to the collards.  You can put in a lot or a little chicken stock.  If you put in a lot, you will have this delicious pot likker bubbling in your pot, into which you can later dip your cornbread.  If you put in a little, your greens may not cook down quite as soft, but that's ok, too.  I like them both ways.

Cover them, turn the heat to low, and let them cook for 10-15 minutes ... or longer, if you want them softer.  The only way you can mess them up is if you didn't put in much liquid and you leave the heat on high and go off to do something very important in another room and forget about your collard greens.  Burned collard greens are not delicious.  How do I know this?  Don't ask.

Since I like to make my plate colorful, we ate these collards with a side of fire- roasted corn (frozen, in a bag, from the grocery store) sauteed with red onion and red and yellow sweet pepper.  A little fresh ground salt and pepper and a little sharp cheddar melted on top - perfect.

Also on the plate - a big chunk of molasses spoon bread.  I made it in the large cast iron skillet so it took longer to cook (as the recipe indicates) -  about 25 minutes.  Just keep checking it til it doesn't jiggle in the center any longer.  We didn't put the honey butter on top.  It didn't need that extra sweet.  (I did reheat a piece the next morning for breakfast and top half of it with fig butter and the other half with a really good marmalade.  Breakfast treat!).

Clearly, I am not a food photographer, but there it is ...

Caribbean collards
Roasted corn and sweet pepper saute and
Molasses spoon bread


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