Yes, although it might not be obvious if you look out the window, but we are in the depths of winter. We can’t look forward to a snowy days, and certainly no icy storms to rage and bang the shutters, but we can at least get into the spirit of it all.
You might start by reading a few Robert Frost poems to the family, like Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, or October, but the real joy of a south Mississippi winter is found in the kitchen. Gather the family around and share the chores and tasks of prepping, sautéing, roasting and seasoning. Even the kids can help out with simple tasks that don’t involve a sharp knife.
Everyone loves a good gumbo this time of the year, jambalaya, or a big stew, like the famous French beef bourguignon (ala Julia Child or Anthony Bourdain), but one of my favorites is a simple dish of collard greens. Collard greens? Really? Yes, when done right, collards are hearty, simple to make and delicious.
Greens, peas and beans are all in the same category, and by that I mean to make them as delicious as they can be, requires a really good stock. In fact, the stock will take longer to make than the greens. I like a stock that is a bit smokey and spicy too, so start by dicing several smoked pork chops (find them at Rouses) and sautéing in good olive oil along with a big (and I mean big!) pinch of red pepper flakes. Sauté until the pork is browned (don’t forget to add the bones). Remove the pork, add onions, bell pepper and a sliced carrot, cover with water or chicken stock and simmer for 45 minutes. Ten minutes before the stock is ready, add the pork back to the stock.
Stem and wash the greens, then add them a handful at a time to the stock pot. Please, please do not overcook the greens! They should be al dente, like a good pasta, with just a little resistance to the tooth. Remember they will continue to cook when you take them off the stove, so take that into account.
So what are you going to serve these greens with? On top of buttered cornbread is my favorite, but I also like to add a big dollop of chow-chow. I’ve given you that recipe before, but here it is again. If you are not hungry for cornbread, greens go well with pasta (add olive oil and Parmesan Reggiano), and this might surprise you, tacos!
Get your family in the kitchen and take advantage of the cool temperatures, summer is on its way!
- 1 large can whole tomatoes
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup vinegar
- 1 or 2 chopped jalapeños
- 6 or so whole cloves
Combine and simmer until thick. Place in a well-sealed jar, and it will last more than a week.