March 2016

collard greens

Posted on March 17, 2016

We’ve reached the point in winter where our CSA box consists primarily of oranges and braising greens. Though I am an ardent lover of vegetables, I just can’t do braised greens. Especially mustard greens. And mizuna. Peppery, bitter and pungent, I quickly eat my portion trying not to taste them, like a kid who has to clear their plate before they’re allowed dessert. Braised greens don’t seem to phase Jordan, and as I pitifully shove greens into my face without stopping to take a breath, he just stares. If you stop shoveling or let them cool, that’s when you can really taste them.

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But, these particular collard greens, they are something else. We first had great collards when our friend Billy brought them over for dinner, along with a Velveeta mac and cheese, which was also heaven and I still think about on the regular. His collards featured a smoked turkey leg and I’m not sure what else, but it was transformative. Smoked meat and collard greens are meant to be together, and that night I learned there was a braised green I could get behind.

Silky and bacony, these collards are the essence of comfort, not the least bit abrasive like those pesky mustards. Jordan has been making these every other week or so and I imagine that will continue until we stop getting them in our farm box. A word to the wise, do not add collard greens into a smoothie. That was a mistake.

Braised Collard Greens
3 slices of bacon, cut into lardon (a smoked turkey leg or ham hock also do just fine)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 large bunch collard greens, cut into 2 inch pieces, stems included
salt and fresh pepper

In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, cook the bacon to render out its fat. Once the fat has rendered,  remove the bacon and set aside. Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic and let sweat for 5-10 minutes. Then add the collards and cook until they start to wilt. Add the bacon back in, along with the broth, chili flake, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve over rice or grits.

 

butter tomato sauce

Posted on March 6, 2016

I first read about this recipe for butter tomato sauce on the blog Orangette a few years ago. It seems to originally belong to Marcella Hazan, but I’m sure she attributes it to generations of Italian nonna’s before her. I make it periodically when the mood for pasta strikes (and by periodically, I mean about once a week). Over the past few years, we’ve made a few tiny tweaks, but the concept remains the same. Tomatoes, onion, butter, salt, and that’s about it.

To make a dish this soul-statisfying from such a simple ingredient list and nearly no work has me convinced that butter really is the best ingredient known to man. The sauce is sweet and mellow. The butter cuts the acidity of the tomato quite a bit and thickens the sauce until it’s satisfyingly voluptuous. It’s good on any pasta, or eaten from the pot by the spoonful.

So good apparently, that I don’t have a single photo of the finished dish. From anytime in the past three years. Please enjoy this informative photo of the ingredients instead. And some artsy photos of my plants and our humid windows dripping water on the inside. The dehumidifier is currently running on full blast to keep our mold situation under control. Once it’s done its work, I’ll use that water to water the aforementioned plants. Circle of life … or something?

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Butter Tomato Sauce
1-28 oz can whole tomatoes (it’s worth splurging for San Marzano, we’ve tested it)
1 onion, sliced in half
2 garlic cloves, pealed (optional)
6 tablespoons butter (not optional)
salt, pepper and chili flake

Now for pasta! Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Add the tomatoes, the onion halves, the garlic cloves, a sprinkle of salt and chili flake. Smoosh the tomatoes a bit. Let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, until the sauce has thickened a bit and the flavors of the onion and garlic have infused the tomatoes. Remove the onion, and puree the sauce a bit with an immersion blender. Add the remaining 2-3 tablespoons butter, and season with salt and just a little pepper. Top your favorite pasta, tortellini or ravioli with the sauce, and maybe a sprinkle of parmigiano.

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