Greek Cooking Goes Southern (US)

As an immigrant cook, I often bring my Greek cooking methods to my Southern kitchen. One of the best examples is stewed greens. In traditional Greek cooking, stewing is an easy way to amplify the flavors of vegetables or lesser cuts of meat. The Greek kitchen is loaded with recipes for stewed vegetables. For most of my younger years, dinner was a stewed vegetable dish with the ever-present bread, feta cheese and Kalamata olives served on the side. No vitamin supplements required when you're eating your vitamins for dinner.

Today I present to you my recipe for Red Chard & Lacinato Kale Stew. Every ingredient is equal to the other. We have a huge onion, lots of garlic, olive oil and chicken broth and they all stand up to the lively green goodness of the greens. I dreamed about this dish the first time I made it. Couldn't wait for lunch the next day so I could eat it again! Note: I use Lacinato kale because it is more tender and a little sweeter than curly kale. You can substitute regular kale for the Lacinato, but you may have to cook a little longer. I also use a big onion to add sweetness to the dish.

Serve over mashed Yukon Gold potatoes or mashed cauliflower and be sure to use the pot likker as you would use gravy--it's just as good, possibly better.
The finished dish. Serve the pot likker like gravy.

Ingredients:

1 bunch Lacinato kale
1 bunch red chard
1/3 cup olive oil (no, it's not too much)
1 very large sweet onion (like Vidalia), chopped
1/2 t salt
3 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped finely
20 oz organic chicken broth or stock
Add stock to sauteed greens

Instructions:
  • This is the hard part--washing the greens. Remove greens from stalks. Save the chard stalks. Wash well in plenty of water and cut into wide strips. I take the stalks and treat them like celery, removing most of the strings. Once that's done (a small paring knife works best for me), cut them into 1-1 1/2-inch pieces.
  • In a heavy pot over high heat, first pour in the oil and then the onion and salt. Stir and reduce heat to medium-high. The salt will help the onion release the sugar and soften. This will take as much as ten minutes, so while you're waiting, peel and chop the garlic.
  • Next, stir in the chard stalk bits and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. This gives the stalks a head start on cooking.
  • Stir in all of the greens, folding over and over to coat everything with the onions and oil.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a moderate boil or high simmer and put the lid on. 20 to 30 minutes later, taste to be sure that everything is tender and raise the heat so that the liquid boils and reduces. You're looking for enough liquid to pour over the mashed potatoes as you would a meat gravy.
This dish reheats beautifully and doesn't suffer at all if cooked ahead and left in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

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