Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 Food Challenge: Collard Greens

 There are quite a few food items largely representative of the south and southern cooking -- some in iconic ways.

Among them: crawdads and crawfish etouffee, peach cobblers (yummmm -- one sweet I will eat), black eyed peas, oxtails, BBQ of all kinds, a hefty steak (preferably a T-bone), savory cornbread, fried catfish, pecan pie and, of course, the quintessential collard greens.

My dad's side of the family is from the south and, coupled with living in the Los Angeles region, we had a hefty amount of soul food-inspired dishes. Not often collard greens, that I can recall.

But having lived a blip of my live in the south -- hello Beaumont; hello Houston -- I realize that these things held true. People of the south are serious about their food. It is something I so appreciated while living in Texas and, honestly, of the things Texas gave me in my young, budding 20s was most certainly a more refined palate.

*nods head* Yes, it's true.

But collard greens? I may have had them two or three times in Texas. Seldom enough and not at all memorable. Actually, I have found that I am not especially drawn to collard greens, especially not in the way I've had them prepared: wet, with ham.

Funny, that's how I would prepare them for this week's challenge item.

But, seriously, if I had the choice between corn on the cob, string beans, Mac n' Cheese or a biscuit, I would most certainly always choose one of those over collard greens.

Alas, the challenge group is pushing me to my limits.

Mah limits, folks! Interesting to note -- and fascinating realization -- that the recent items have been of the south, and also things I am not especially fond of eating: beans of the adzuki type, hominy and pecans.


So, for this week's challenge I decided to try and marry the old with the new -- something traditional with a contemporary feel.

Not familiar with collard greens, and based on of my prior experiences with the greens, I purchased some mustard greens and chard, believing that the collards would be too-too simple.

I also went with a lamb rack instead of steak, which I grilled using the wondrous indoor grill. I know, cheating.

I also decided to make a cauliflower puree.

Cooking the collard greens was a near nightmare. Why, you ask?

1. I purchased ham hocks to cook with the collards. I understood that this was the thing to do if you were going to be keeping it real.

But I found that ham hocks, which I have never, never, ever purchased in my life, are simply repulsive.

The look.

The feel.

The smell. Blecht! Oh, the smell! I've added a little picture here because, really, you don't want to see it any larger than it is presented here. Maybe you don't want to see it at all. I don't blame you.

2. I started with one pot of liquid for the flavoring and had to start over midway finding that the collards were not taking on the flavor of the garlic, onion, red peppers and mustard powder that I added.

In the end, I dumped the liquid and reserved as much of the garlic and onion as possible, adding some oil along with seasoning salt, a bouillon (I didn't use broth -- bummer) and three slices of bacon.

That helped.

Interesting thing: I find that I like the taste of raw collard greens. They taste, well, green. I especially like the taste of the stems. After eating a few, I imagined I would look at my tongue and find that it had turned a green hue. Cooked, they taste completely different.

So, in all, the dish was pretty good. I plated the lamb with mushrooms sauteed in Worcestershire sauce, and also the puree mix, which came out perfectly with the addition of the parsley. I also added some Toscano cheese with black pepper, courtesy of Trader Joe's, to add a bit of sharpness to the dish.

I felt OK about the greens but, goodness! Leftover lunch the following day was simply amazing. Yes, these were the type of greens that had to sit in their stew for a day in order to justify a blog post.

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