Saturday, August 31, 2019

Almost Southern Collard Greens

I have a great fondness for Southern food as my Father was born in the South and I had an ex-husband from there too, I got to enjoy some really great Southern food on my travels to Tennessee and South Carolina. One of the things I liked best was Greens cooked with Ham Hock and the other night I made a variation that, while not completely authentic, was wonderful!  I had some Pancetta in the freezer from Trader Joe's, which is just a kind of Italian Ham and it is already cut up into a small dice. If I didn't have that, I would have used Country Ham or Bacon, but I was out of those. I sautéed the Pancetta with some Onions and Collard Greens. Then I added in some homemade Chicken Broth and let it cook for only about 1/2 the time so that the Greens had a bit more texture. A sprinkling of Pepper is all that it needed and I was happily eating Greens with some Cornbread on the side!

Almost Southern Collard Greens

1 bunch of Collard Greens
1 cup of Pancetta or Country Ham, diced
1/2 of a Yellow Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 - 1 1/2 cups of Chicken Broth (depending on how long you cook the Greens)
fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

Pull the Collard Greens off the Stems and cut them into bite sized pieces. Wash, drain in a colander and reserve.

In a sauté pan with 3 inch sides, heat the Oil and add in the Onion, cooking until you smell the fragrance. Add in the Pancetta or Country Ham and the Collard Greens. Cook, stirring until they wilt. Add in the Chicken Broth (3/4 cup if cooking for 20 - 30 minutes and 1 1/2 cups if cooking for up to one hour). Cover and put on simmer and cook for either 20 minutes or one hour. Sprinkle with Black Pepper before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Collard Greens are a leafy green Vegetable so you know that they have to belong to the Wood Element and the Chicken Broth adds even more. The Pancetta or Ham, as a salted meat brings in the Water Element and the Black Pepper adds just a hint of the Fire Element. This is a good side dish for a dinner that's missing both Wood and Water.

Reverse Seared Steak

I've been working really hard on finishing the cookbook and while I haven't forgotten to cook other things, I have forgotten to take photos!  To give you an update - our Cookbook Divine Chinese Cuisine - Book 1 is full of authentic Chinese recipes that are also Gluten, Lactose, Seafood, Nut, Dye and MSG Free!  I will give you another update when it is finally going to print and let you know as soon as it will be available online. 

In the meantime, I did cook something very interesting the other night that I thought I would share with you - Reverse Seared Steak. This is a technique where you first put the steak in the oven and then sear it in a very hot cast iron skillet to finish and it's amazing!  I've never been very good at making Steak and now I have to say that with this technique the Steak was so good!

I got the idea from the wonderful website, Serious Eats, but I did have to adapt it as I didn't have time to age the steaks in the fridge and I had 1 inch thick Steaks, not 2 inches. So, here's the technique for medium rare steaks. If you want them more done, cook them in the oven a bit longer - until the thermometer reads 130 - 135 for Medium Well. I think you will want to try this way of making Steak!

Reverse Seared Steak
adapted from Serious Eats

2 Rib Eye Steaks (at least one inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Pepper
2 Tablespoons Salted Butter

Heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Place the Steaks on a baking sheet and sprinkle each side of each Steak evenly with Salt and Pepper.  

Place in the oven and cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the instant read thermometer reads 125 degrees.  

Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove until it is very hot.  Place the Steaks on the pan and sear on one side fro 45 seconds, turn them over and sear for another 45 seconds. Remove from the pan and place one Tablespoon of Butter on each Steak. 

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the bit of Butter adds in a hint of Metal. The way of cooking does bring in the Fire Element due to the high heat. But, to make a balanced meal, you will certainly want to add a Green Vegetable for the Wood Element, or perhaps also a Salad for the Fire Element or a Steak Sauce with some heat. And don't forget to bring in something for the Water Element and a little more of the Metal Element too - we had Blueberries with Whipped Cream.