Dinner Plate Travails

Our culinary adventures!

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Collard greens

The most awesome thing about collard greens is how easy they are to make as well as how good they taste! Many recipes for southern-style collard greens involve smoked meats (turkey, pork hocks, etc.), onions and red pepper flakes. Some people boil the greens first, some will cook them for hours. I like my vegetables to retain some of their natural vitamins, flavours and textures, so I often will cook them less than called for in some recipes. However, the longer the collard greens are cooked, the sweeter they seem to get (and lose more of their bitterness, if that is not a taste you like). I can be lazy sometimes but still like tasty food. This recipe is fast, easy and simple. AND soooo delicious.

First, cut out the centre stem of the collard greens and chop them into 1 cm strips; smash 4-5 cloves of garlic (more if you really like garlic, which we do). Then, fry 5-6 strips of smoked bacon and reserve some of the fat. When the bacon is crispy, remove and cut into small pieces to add back in at the end. Set aside some of the bacon fat to cook the chopped collard greens in. The bacon fat is already salty, so the only additional spice I added was ground pepper to taste. Cook the collard greens for about 45 min-1 hour. The longer you cook the collard greens, the more of their bitterness is cooked out.

Next time, I will try the more involved southern-style collard green recipes and use smoked turkey left-overs or smoked hocks.

UPDATE: Next time came! We were in Omaha visiting Jeff’s family for Christmas 2012. Amy brought home a smoked turkey she won in a raffle at work. Of course, I *knew* we’d have left-overs, and it was an opportunity to try this, old-school! What better use of Christmas dinner left-overs? There was also smoked ham, but I thought it might be too much to use that too… The only modification to the recipe above was to add the bits of chopped smoked turkey meat (about a cup) and two whole chili peppers. It was delicious (I’d say)! The smoked flavour was even stronger–maybe the bacon could be omitted if you do it this way. Rosemary found the chilies to be a little too spicy, and I admit it wasn’t evenly distributed (surprise!). The afore-mentioned smoked ham and Amy’s awesome cranberry sauce were very charming dinner guests.



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Crockpot Pulled Pork

I used this recipe as a rough guide: http://www.crumblycookie.net/2008/05/30/crockpot-pulled-pork/

It was a success on the first try and required relatively little effort for a great meal! The extra meat kept well in the fridge… If you start it when you get up in the morning, it will be ready for dinner.

I particularly liked the flexibility of  this dish–all you most likely need is the pork shoulder (that is readily available at most supermarkets)–the spice mixture can easily be tweaked to fit what you have on hand, and a complete meal can be pieced together with whatever starch and veg. you have around.

Some notes:

I just made the spice rub to taste, using this recipe as a general guide, then added a sliced onion, a few sliced carrots, and some whole garlic cloves to the crockpot before adding meat. I didn’t bother to wrap the meat and refrigerate as the above recipe mentions (I don’t doubt that this can improve the flavor, but it is not worth the planning). When applying the spice rub be sure to work it into the fatty marbling so that more of the meat is exposed to the spices.

I flipped the meat and added more spices to the meat partway through. I don’t know if this helped, but I wanted to keep the meat covered with the rub as it cooked so that as much flavor as possible would be absorbed.

After the meat was cooked I removed the onions, carrots, and garlic and pureed them with some of the meat juice and BBQ sauce before adding it back to the pork. I discarded some of the fatty meat juice. This made the meat extra creamy… I might not use all of the vegs. next time as the final sauce was a bit too creamy. A bit of the pureed mixture will add to the texture, but too much makes it taste odd.

We had the pulled pork with crispy, toasted slices of bread–an open faced sandwich–and slow-cooked collard greens. I added some hot sauce to the pork (I really have started to like the Grace brand hot sauce: http://www.gracefoods.ca/drupal/special-product/266). Maybe Mai will comment on the Collard greens she made the same night. They were awesome.