Sunday, June 08, 2008

Lagered Greens; hold the pig

Alexander D. Mitchell IV lay down a challenge yesterday at his Baltimore, Md. beer blog:

I have a sister. She has a blog. In her latest entry, she mentions an attempt to render collard greens edible. It involves a Community-Shared Agriculture co-op. And bacon. And a bottle of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.

Okay, how many of you just went "Huh?!?" I sure did. I'm guessing that, aside from beer bread, she's relatively new to the concept of beer in cooking. (Wait'll I get her to try Belgian beer and mussels.....)

So, here's the challenge: What kind of beer SHOULD she try steaming collard greens with? (First thing I'd do is tell her to head to the Penna. Dutch Farmers Market near her and procure some thick slices of dry-cured bacon rather than the frozen slices of presumably nitrate-injected bacon she probably had--but that's just me. And I'm betting some of you are vegetarians, like my wife.)

ADM's premise is wrong. Collards are hardly inedible. Not only delicious, they are cheap, easy to prepare, and ridiculously healthy. So get over that!

So, here's a non traditional recipe for greens, that is, vegetarian, minus the pig fat:

Lagered Greens

Clean the greens of any grit. Remove the stems. Coarsely chop the greens, or as ADM's sister does, chiffonade them.

Put in a large soup pot. Add beer, and enough cool clean water to cover. Now simply simmer for 30 minutes. Don't overcook!

Drain. Then, toss the warm greens with Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, balsalmic vinegar (which cuts the bitterness of the greens), and your favorite hot sauce, all to taste. Serve with a (small) dollop) of soy margarine, or more balsalmic.

Easy and quick (and inexpensive) ... and good over rice.

The beer, when simmered, will add a yeasty flavor, similar to the dried yeast you'll often find in prepared soup mixes, but with a hint of hops. But avoid heavily hopped beers, which would impart unneeded bitterness to the greens, and ales which will add a distracting fruitiness. Any good honest American Lager will do, such as Victory Lager, Dominion Lager, or Sierra Nevada Summerfest. Avoid North American industrial lagers (N.A.I.L.s) such as Budweiser, Miller Lite, etc., which are produced with non-barley adjuncts.

Why 6 ounces? You don't want to overdo the flavor, but only to add subtle hints. And, a half bottle will remain for the thirsty cook.

The Washington Post's Kim O'Donnell recently discussed vegetarianism, and included this observation:
You may have heard that Oprah is in the middle of a vegan experiment, as part of a 21- day alcohol, gluten, caffeine and sugar-free cleanse. On Day Two, she writes in her blog: "Wow, wow, wow! I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying."

Some easy recipes too: Vegan and You Don't Even Know It

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