Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I like my greens to stay....well, green! I only recently (last year) started cooking collard greens. One of the reasons why I didn't try them sooner was because every recipe I read, it seemed, suggested cooking "greens" for 45 minutes and longer....seems like alot of time and work when you consider spinach takes seconds, chard, minutes, kale a few more minutes! But one day at the farmers market I saw these huge beatiful dark green bundles of flat leaves....what were they? Collard greens! And only one buck for all that? I had to buy them.
To my surprise they didn't take that long to cook (I consider them cooked when they're soft enough to eat, lol), and what I liked about them, different than kale and chard was that they are chewy, the same, but because the leaf is flat I like to cut them in strips.....I like how it, kind of, looks like green pasta strips. So I started adding them to my base veg soups.
Because they took longer to cook than, my favorite at the time, kale, I would add the strips of collards at the same time as the stock, and cook for the final 10-15 min, where the kale went in after the final simmer, cooking in the residual heat of the soup.
Residual heat. What is it? Residual heat is the retained temperature of the food at the final stage of cooking, before it starts to cool down. Residual heat is a softer heat because it's temperature will be decreasing or staying the same, if you cover the pot, not increasing, and it's a method used commonly to "poach" more tender types of food without overcooking, like fish and chicken breast. I think I explained that right, lol. Many vegetables only need a few minutes to cook, and after that they become overcooked. Some veggies turn to mush if cooked too long, or at too high of a heat, and the texture just isn't that pleasant, but you know greens are over cooked when they turn brown....still tasty and nutritious, just not pretty. So, instead actually cooking some veggies, by the time the heat gets to high, it's too late they're overcooked, you can simply throw them in after you turn off the heat, to cook in the residual heat, still in the pot/pan/dish.
Since collards wouldn't normally cook in residual heat, for the simple fact that "normal" residual heat, the kind that is leftover from a boil, isn't hot enough, or won't stay hot long enough to cook this heartier green. But the pressure cooker cooks at a temperature much higher than a boil, so when you take the lid off, after the pressure comes down, either naturally, or manually released, often times the contents are still rapidly boiling. At this time you can add ingredients that can cook with residual heat, and if you put the lid back on (and re-lock, do not turn heat back on!) the temperature in the pot will stay very hot. This is how I cooked collards in my beef stew.
I've got to get to 9:15 yoga class, but I'll post the recipe and directions to my Beef Stew with Mushrooms, Barley, Wild Rice and Collards later this afternoon.