Going Whole Hog

I live in a 600-square foot apartment. From the front door, you can see straight through my entire home and out the bedroom window. Should you want a little air, it’s two flights up or two flights down. As I type this, I’m watching a neighbor across the alley preparing dinner. (Looks like pasta again.)

My kitchen is small but efficient. I’ve pulled off dinner parties for 12 and a surprisingly rocking baby shower for 30. But there’s no way a whole pig is going into my Easy Bake-esque Ikea oven. Sometimes you have to leave the cooking to professionals.

Last Sunday an intrepid group of friends risked life and limb in the name of pork. With snow and ice coating the ground and another storm on the way, we boarded a northbound train along the Hudson. By the time we made it out of the tunnels, the flakes were coming down hard. We disembarked at Dobbs Ferry into a glittery wonderland and hiked up a steep hill. As we rounded the corner, we caught sight of yellow light spilling out of the lone sign of life. It was The Cookery and we were there for their Pig Dinner.

We warmed up with a round of cocktails before tucking into some delightful swine and wine. The first course was a sunny side up egg atop some luscious braised kale, which was paired with a dry Gewurtzraminer that did a nice job of cutting through the fattiness. The first course was a hit, despite the fact that some in our party were surprised that it was not fried egg and tail.

As they cleared our plates, the wait staff offered sobering instructions. When the lights flickered, we were to clear the way. A few minutes later, the lights flickered and our pig emerged on the largest cutting board I have ever seen. They placed the animal in the center of the table, where the chef made short work of breaking it down into edible parts.

Pig Carving

The pig came with a red wine that escapes me at the moment and some stellar seasonal vegetable dishes. But all eyes were on the succulent meat and the skin, which has taken on a candied quality during a final blast of high heat. We ate with abandon, as if we were desperate to ensure our fair share of the meat. Within 15 minutes, everyone was easing into a pork coma. Turns out eight people are no match for even a modest 35-pound pig.

Pig Carcass

The wait staff left us to contemplate a sparkling Moscato and a surprisingly refreshing maple panna cotta while they divvied up the leftovers. And so, less than two house after arriving in Dobbs Ferry, we found ourselves slip-sliding our way back down the hill, aluminum pans of meat and bones in hand. It is a good thing there are no wild dogs on Metro North. I made it back to Brooklyn around 11:00pm. It had been a long and booze-laden weekend. It was all I could do to shove the meat into the refrigerator and the pork bones into a baggie in the freezer before  climbing into bed.

A few days later, I found myself working from home in a desperate bid to push a couple of grants proposals out by the end of the week. It was a cold and nasty day–at least from what I could glean from my view of the alley and various social media posts. For breakfast, I fried up some of my pig meat with a small onion and added some scrambled eggs for quick and delicious breakfast tacos.

Pork Breakfast Tacos

But my real focus was the bones lurking in my freezer. With a whole day at home, I had time to make some serious bone broth. I threw the bones into a roasting pan and popped it into a 350-degree oven. An hour later, I added a couple of quartered onions plus some roughly chopped and slightly limp root vegetables I found hiding out in the back of the crisper.

Roasted Bones

After another hour, my bones and vegetables had taken on a rich brown color and were ready for the stockpot. I added enough water to cover everything, brought the pot to a boil and then lowered the heat until I had a very slow simmer going. I also threw in a couple of bay leaves and 12 black peppercorns for good measure. My pork stock simmered for eight hours, requiring nothing but an occasional stir and a little more water when the liquid started to get low. Before bed, I strained the liquid into a glass container, let it cool and popped it into the fridge.

Pork Stock

My patience yielded about a quart of unctuous concentrated pork stock. It was the texture of Jell-O and topped by a nice layer of pork fat, which I reserved for a future use. Half of the stock went in the freezer (I’m thinking ramen) and the other half went into a pot of flageolet the next night. More on those later.

EAT THIS: Leftover Steak and Kale Tacos

Leftover Steak and Kale TacosYou know that surprisingly chewy steak that’s been sitting in your fridge since last weekend? Slice it thin against the grain, fry it up in a cast iron skillet along with your leftover onion jam and some lacinato kale, nestle it in a couple of corn tortillas, and top it with a sweet and spicy salsa. Boom, a delicious lunch in under 10 minutes.

Red Wine-Braised Chicken Thighs with Dukkah

It is beyond cold here in New York City and across most of the nation. As I type this, it’s nine degrees in Brooklyn–and that’s without factoring in the wind chill. I made the morning commute in no less than 18 articles of clothing.

Arctic ChicHad I to do it over, I would have added leg warmers and a second scarf.

It was the (please, oh please, let this be true) coldest day of the year and the heat was out in our office due to a leaking valve. Adding insult to injury, the building is in the final stages of a multi-year facelift; concrete bricks and plaster are currently all that separate us from the elements. The staff toughed it out in knit caps, scarves and sweaters until 3:00 when I sent everyone home. I stuck around for another hour in the hopes of guilting the building staff into figuring something out before heading home myself. The temperature was holding steady in the single digits, but the wind had picked up. For some reason my knees–buried under silk long underwear, jeans and a down coat–suffered the most.

I had a hankering for something warm and comforting. I also had a hankering to take my brand new Global knives for a spin.

The fridge held chicken thighs, potatoes, carrots, red cabbage, and some sorry-looking cilantro. On the counter I had onions and some red wine left by my cat sitter. I also had a baggie labeled Dukkah, which the internet tells me is an Egyptian blend of crushed spices and nuts. This particular mix, which I received as a gift from an old friend, is from My Spice Sage and contains coriander, cumin, fennel, thyme, marjoram, black pepper and sesame seeds.

Red Wine-Braised Chicken Thighs with Dukkah

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Dukkah or a spice blend of your choosing (I’m willing to bet this would be nice with a curry of some sort.)
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (You could use bone-in. Just be sure to cook them a bit longer.)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons harissa
  • 7 small carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 8 small potatoes, quartered
  •  1 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, minced
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in a large dutch over medium-low heat. Rinse the chicken thighs, pat them dry and dust with 1 tablespoon of Dukkah plus salt and pepper. Pan fry the chicken in two batches, approximately five minutes per side.
  2. Set the seared chicken aside, add the onions, and cook until nicely browned. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of Dukkah and the harissa, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Then add the red wine and use your spoon to scrape the fond (browned tasty bits) from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock, carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Taste the broth and add salt and pepper as you see fit. Stir in the cabbage, cilantro and chicken. (It’s OK if the liquid doesn’t completely cover the vegetables and chicken.) Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked through but still firm.

Braised Chicken with DukkahThe resulting dish was comforting in the extreme, with a rich broth and warm spices.

The knives were even more satisfying.

Global KnivesThese supremely sexy pieces of cutlery feel light but powerful in the hand and cut through an onion like it’s butter that’s been left on the counter. They may just be the best gift I have ever received.

Sweet Potato and Collard Hash

As any regular reader will have intuited, I have a deep and abiding affection for leafy greens–the darker, the better. The winter months can be rough for green lovers who live in northern climates, but hearty collard greens seem to fare well. They also hold up nicely in the refrigerator, unlike some of their more delicate relations.

Amazon and ChampagneCollards are a traditional New Year’s food throughout the American South. I rang in the new year with good friends and cuddly cats in Baltimore.

Taco FillingsThe 20 or so guests were no match for the truly insane variety of taco fixings that were on offer. Homemade corn tortillas swaddled red chicken mole, grilled gulf shrimp, carnitas, chorizo, mushroom and corn rajas, pickled cow’s tongue, refried beans, Coca-Cola braised beef, and black mole goat (not pictured, because it was simmering away in the crockpot). There was a whole other table of salsas, cheese, veggies and the like.

New Years Day FeastNew Year’s Day found us watching a trashy movie while dining on stuffed ham, black-eyed peas, and collard greens braised in coconut milk with some black cardamom I’d picked up at Union Market while passing through Washington, DC. I used this recipe from Serious Eats as a starting point for what turned out to be a damn tasty variation on a classic dish.

It is January 5th and I’m on a bit of a collard bender. Thursday morning, I poached an egg in some of the leftover greens before hopping a train back to NYC just ahead of a snowstorm. Friday I bundled up to check out the winter wonderland and get some more greens, which I sautéed with soy sausage. Yesterday I ate the collards braised with roasted delicata squash and red onion.

This morning I went with a hash that requires just one skillet and feeds one individual who stayed out a little too late, drank a little too much red wine, and spent more than she had intended in the live auction. (Luckily the proceeds benefit Just Food, an amazing organization that connects New Yorkers to fresh, locally grown food.)

Sweet Potato and Collard Hash

  • 1 ounce slab bacon, roughly diced
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch chipotle powder (cayenne or even red pepper flakes would work too)
  • 2 cups destemmed collard greens cut into ribbons
  1. Bring a large cast iron skillet up to medium-low heat and add the bacon, stirring frequently until it begins to release its fat. Add the onion and continue stirring frequently until softened.
  2. Add the olive oil, sweet potatoes and 1/4 cup of water. Pop a lid on top and stir occasionally until the potatoes soften. Remove the lid and stir every few minutes, allowing the potatoes to brown. (Now is a good time to get your coffee going.)
  3. Add salt, pepper and chipotle powder. Stir the collards in, ensuring that they are coated in oil. Pop the lid back on and let them steam for a few minutes. Finish with the lid off, allowing any excess liquid to boil off.

Sweet Potato Collard Hash

Giving Thanks for 75 Degrees

I spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s house in South Florida. My grandparents, who are now 93, relocated to Boca Raton last year. In celebration of their move, the menu featured a Florida theme.

Smoked Marlin Dip with Crackers
Sweet and Spicy Pepitas
Deviled Crab Empanadas with Citrus-Chive Aioli
Crudite and Plaintain Chips with Black Bean Dip

Baked Brie en Croute with Cranberry-Mango Chutney

Mango Mojitos

*  *  *

Butter Lettuce Salad with Mango,

Florida Avocado, Hearts of Palm and a Citrus Vinaigrette

*  *  *

Mojo-Brined Turkey with Gravy

Corn Bread and Mofongo Stuffing

Cranberry-Mango Chutney

Sweet Potato-Plantain Gratin with a Coconut-Rum Glaze

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Grilled Asparagus

Baked Manicotti (courtesy of the Purificatos)

*  *  *

Kabocha Flan

Key Lime Pie

I had intentions of getting photos of the whole meal. But the pressure of producing 20+ different dishes (including the vegan, gluten-free and heart healthy variations not listed above) and a serious burn got the better of me. Suffice it to say that the dishes not pictured were delicious and the mojitos helped ease the pain from my blistering fingers.

We were an even dozen around two tables pushed together. In keeping with the tropical theme, my mom went with colorful napkins and no tablecloth.

Florida Thanksgiving Table

She also came up with a stellar floral arrangement.

Tropical Flowers

The exhaustively researched bird was from BN Ranch. It was compact for its impressive heft.

BN Ranch Turkey

Lacking room in the fridge, I opted to use a cooler to brine the bird.

CoolerMy stepdad devised a rather ingenious strategy for getting a whole lot of potable water into the scrubbed, bleached and rinsed cooler.

Aaron and Surgical TubingHe was also a great help in juicing the citrus that went in the brine along with bay leaves, cumin seed, garlic, cilantro and a whole lot of salt.

Mojo BrineThe bird spent 36 hours in the brine and another 12 hours air drying before it was stuffed with some of the leftover citrus and garlic and rubbed down with butter.

Mojo-Brined Turkey Raw 2It started out in a high heat oven before I dropped the temperature to 375. I basted the turkey periodically and, after a couple of hours, draped it in an olive oil-soaked cheesecloth. (Sadly, I failed to get a shot of the Shroud of Turkin.) It cooked faster than expected. Within four hours, this beauty emerged from the oven.

Mojo-Brined Turkey Cooked

Tony did a bang up job of carving the bird, which was delightfully moist, meaty and redolent of citrus and spice.

Turkey CarcassThe next day, I added the carcass and trimmings to a large pot and let it simmer for a very long time.

Turkey StockThe whole house smelled like turkey. Fortunately, we had plenty of leftovers on hand to satisfy any eau de turkey-induced cravings.

Leftovers

Naturally, the day started with coffee and kabocha flan.

Kabocha Flan, Sliced

I strained the stock into a liquid measuring cup and cooled it so that I could easily skim the fat off the top. Liquid Gold

I then froze the super concentrated stock in a few miniature plastic containers, which I packed in a portable cooler and schlepped back to Brooklyn by way of Miami Beach. Having suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning while in Miami, I gave the stock one more boil back at home before tucking it in my freezer. I see some serious gumbo in my future. In the meantime, I’ll try to get working on a recipe for the Kobocha Flan.

Sweet Potato Turkey Bisque with Collards

I am still working my way through the last of this season’s CSA share. Olive oil, habanero powder, salt and pepper are the only things in this dairy-free bisque that didn’t come directly from Windflower Farm or a nearby meat purveyor. This came out crazy tasty, which is a good thing since I will be eating it all week.

Sweet Potato Turkey Bisque with Collards

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4-6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon habanero powder (cayenne would also work)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • six cups chicken stock (I used eight cubes of my frozen concentrated stock plus a couple of cups of water.)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into large hunks of roughly the same size. Place on a cookie sheet and mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil plus some salt and pepper. Pop these in the oven and cook until soft and starting to brown, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Bring two tablespoons of olive oil up to medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Chop the onion, add to the pot and sauté until soft. Press and add the garlic along with the habanero powder, adding more if you like things really spicy. (I used a heaping teaspoon and mine came out pretty damn hot.) Stir constantly for one minute. Then add the ground turkey. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all pink is gone. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Puree the sweet potatoes, using water as needed to loosen the mixture. Add the purée plus the chicken stock, water and apple cider to your turkey mixture and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. Strip the stems from your collards, roll them like a cigar and thinly slice into strips. Add these to the pot and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Sweet Potato Turkey Bisque with Collards

Hoppin’ John is Health Food

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Windflower Farm‘s CSA season has come to a close. The winter season starts in a couple of weeks, so you can look forward to reports on root vegetables, hard squashes, and dark leafy greens.

In preparation for the slow and low cooking that these vegetables imply, I took the opportunity to place one last order for meat from Lewis Waite Farm, which partnered with my CSA for the first time this year. I worked from home this morning so that I could meet an unmarked van full of meat on a street corner near my house. Given that I already had a serious stockpile from my Carnivore Share, I may have gone a bit overboard.

Freezer Full of Meat

I took the afternoon off to catch up on some reading for school. I’m taking Contemporary Issues in Food Studies this semester and spent most of the weekend writing a paper on Taste, Culture and the Production of Cool. This week, we are shifting gears to examine the systems that create and perpetuate global hunger.

And so I find myself reading about the impact of The Green Revolution–which increased crop yields but came with a serious consequences in terms of individual health, the environment, economic equality and overall food security–while simmering a large pot of Hoppin’John chock full of whole grains, humane meat, organic legumes and locally-sourced vegetables.

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Hoppin’ John with Brown Rice and Kale

  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
  • 1 smoked ham hock or pork shank
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced and rinsed (or an onion)
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers (depending on their heat and your tolerance for heat), minced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or a sprig of fresh if you have it)
  • 2 bunches lacinato kale or other dark leafy green, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (optional)
  • apple cider vinegar or vinegar-based hot sauce
  • salt and pepper
  1. Dump the beans into a bowl, add enough water to cover by a few inches, and soak overnight, or for at least six hours.
  2. Cover the hock or shank with water in a large dutch oven. Add bay leaves and garlic and cook at a slow boil for one hour.
  3. Strain and rinse the black-eyed peas, add them to the pot along with a big pinch of salt and continue your slow boil for another 45-75 minutes until the peas are tender but not mushy.
  4. Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board and dispose of the bay leaves. Dump the peas into a bowl, put your pot back over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add your leeks and peppers. Stir occasionally while the vegetables soften, adding thyme after a few minutes. Meanwhile, pull the meat off of the pork bones, chop it up, and add it back to the pot. 
  5. Add a cup of long-grain brown rice, plenty of freshly ground pepper, two cups of the bean liquid, and two cups of water. Taste the broth and add salt if needed. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, put a lid on it, and simmer for 40 minutes or until your rice is tender. 
  6. Stir in the kale, cover and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes. (I like my kale toothsome but, if you prefer more tender greens, add them a little earlier in the cooking process.)
  7. Mix in the parsley and the black-eyed peas, along with enough of their cooking liquid to give the dish a loose consistency. Add more salt and pepper as needed. I like to round out the flavor with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar. If your peppers aren’t as spicy as you might have liked, you can also use a vinegar-based hot sauce to get that tang.

Healthy Hoppin' John

For a little Hoppin’ John history, another tasty recipe featuring black-eyed peas and greens, and a glimpse at my Dollywood pilgrimage, check out A Hoppin’ New Year.

Guest Post: Boiled (Yes, Boiled) Chicken

Alex and I met during our junior year of college when we were both studying in Jerusalem. Inspired by the local bounty, we were just starting to hone our cooking skills and we delighted in exploring food together. In particular, I recall a dinner party in Alex’s dorm room that centered around a canister of Kraft Grated Parmesan that his parents had smuggled into the country. (What can I say? We were young and it tasted like home.)

When We Were Young

At the end of the semester, we headed back to the States to finish school. Alex returned to Northern California and I to Upstate New York, but we kept in touch. I would visit him in Berkeley, where we would host lavish (by broke twenty something standards) dinner parties and tool around the Marin Hills. Alex would come to New York City for long walks and down and dirty Chinese food. For a few glorious years, Alex moved to Brooklyn, but the Bay Area called him back for a PhD in Urban Planning.

After a stint in Paris, Alex recently began working as a Lecturer in Geography at Leeds University. Somewhere in the eighteen years since we first met, it seems that we became adults. Fretting over the health of his students, Alex asked whether he might contribute a post or two. The recipes that he offers below are as suitable for starving college students in England as they are for an overworked New Yorker who finds herself suddenly pushing 40.

The Boiled-Chicken Method – Courtesy of Dr. Alex Schafran

Now that the Drunken Fig is required reading for my first year tutees (the Jewish grandmother in me worries that they aren’t eating well), it seems time to contribute some of my favorite tricks for brilliant eating on the simple. This is a super technique for the harried life, very friendly for finicky children/housemates/lovers. It also makes multiple meals at once or a classy two-course.
  1. Remove your hard-as-a-rock frozen chicken parts from freezer. Works with all types of frozen bits–light, dark and turkey too.
  2. Place in decent size pot – big enough that you can cover with water thoroughly and boil the hell out of it. I like to add a little salt at this stage, and sometimes a of bay leaf or some oregano, depending on what I am doing with it (see below).
  3. Boil. Yes, get over your fear of boiled meat and just do it. As it begins to soften up, you can start inserting a sharp knife to make the process quicker, but don’t cut it up too much. This should take about 30 minutes for deeply frozen breasts, longer if they are frozen together into an Übermass of poultry. (If you want to poke at your chicken, press down on it with a spatula rather than cutting into it. If it gives in easily, chances are it is cooked.)
  4. When your chicken is fully cooked, turn off the heat, and use tongs to remove the chicken pieces. Place them on a wooden cutting board or something that can take the heat. 
  5. When the chicken is cool enough to work with, take a fork in one hand and the tongs in another. Hold the chicken bits with the tongs, and press down and to one side with the fork to shred the chicken. The longer you cook it, the easier it will shred. But the meat will also be a little drier and less flavorful. This takes a bit of getting used to, but you will get the hang of it.
  6. Place your shredded chicken in a bowl. Now you have two awesome ingredients: a ton of shredded chicken and some fresh chicken broth.

So what do I do with my poultry bonanza?

  1. Tacos now, soup later option: Mix some olive oil, a touch of salt and pepper, plenty of oregano and a bit of chili powder into the chicken. You can do garlic instead of chili, or both if you like. Heat up tortillas, sprinkle on some cheese (or not, if you want to be traditional), a touch of cilantro and onions and voilà. Freeze broth.
  2. Dinner tonight, tomorrow’s dinner cooking while you eat: Use the chicken how you will. (Last night it was with garlic spinach over brown basmati rice.) Before you sit down, chop up a bunch of veggies. If you can stand waiting a bit for dinner, a light sauté is generally recommended for the veggies, but it’s not essential. Let the soup simmer while you eat. By the time you are finished, the soup will be ready for pureeing – if that is your way of doing things. Now tomorrow’s dinner is done, save for the hard-crusted bread.
  3. Soup and chicken together option: Take a can of black beans, and purée it in the chicken broth with some garlic, a touch of cumin and some oregano. Serve with heaping amounts of chicken, a dollop of sour cream for sluttiness and a touch of cilantro, unless you hate it. Works with other beans and pretty much any leftover veggies you have.
  4. The simple two-course option: Shredded chicken takes almost any sauce and any cuisine well. I have done Japanese style over noodles and then added a touch of miso into the broth for a new take on miso soup. Sautéed vegetables and chicken over couscous with a vegetable soup is also excellent. Quinoa and chicken with a broccoli soup. Ad nauseam.
  5. The top class Mexican meal: Since this method is inspired by Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine, they get the top class version: Chicken enchiladas with a roasted corn and tomato soup. Actually pretty easy, especially if you cheat and buy enchilada sauce.

After admitting that I have yet to get over this past weekend’s head cold, I came home early today with comfort food on the brain. Alex’s recipes had been sitting in my email inbox for a couple of weeks and there was a three-pound chicken in my freezer. It took about five minutes to get to this stage. (I added onions, garlic, some wilted carrots and a couple of bay leaves.)

Boiling ChickenAn hour later (though, in hindsight, 45 minutes would have been sufficient), I was shredding the meat. I threw the bones and skin back in to simmer while I did some work. After another half hour, I strained the broth, put it back on the heat, and added turnips, shredded collard greens, carrots, dried porcini mushrooms, pearled barley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Half an hour later, I mixed in some of the shredded meat and dinner was served.

Thanks, Alex, for taking care of me across the many miles.

Chicken Barley Soup

Kale, Sausage & Potato Stew

This recipe was inspired by caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup of kale and potatoes garnished with spicy sausage. While caldo verde is usually served for celebrations, I was able to whip this up in under an hour with ingredients I had on hand, making it a fine midweek supper. The ingredients are simple and the recipe is straightforward, but the resulting dish is delightfully complex.

Kale, Sausage & Potato Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces fresh spicy sausage (I used some loose hot Italian turkey sausage from Di Paola Turkey Farms, which sells its wares at greenmarkets throughout New York City, but whatever you’ve got in the freezer is cool.)
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
  • 2 bunches kale, thinly sliced (I used lacinato, but pretty much any kind of kale or collards would work.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (I used about six cubes of frozen contracted stock.)
  • six small yellow potatoes, halved and cut into quarter-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add your sausage and stir until cooked through. Add the leeks and garlic and cook until limp. Stir in the herbes de provence and red pepper flakes.
  2. Add the kale in batches, stirring until there is room for more. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Stir in the paprika, a generous amount of fresh black pepper, and salt if needed
  3. Let simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes. 

Kale, Sausage and Potato Stew

Corn & Seafood Chowder

Barbara and I met through our mutual support of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). This past spring she invited me to be a guest on the Park Slope Food Coop cooking show that she hosts. We had a great time making shrimp and grits and discussing the critical role that abortion funds play. A couple of weeks ago we decided to reprise our cooking date–only this time (mercifully) the cameras were off.

Barbara emailed me a few days before our date asking what we should make. I mentally reviewed the various foodstuffs cluttering my fridge: corn, potatoes, and a wide variety of peppers. This could have gone any number of ways. Then I remembered that I had several corn cobs stripped of their kernels jammed into my freezer because I had read something about corn broth. Bingo!

Corn & Seafood Chowder

  • 8-12 cobs of corn
  • 3 ounces slab bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 medium russet potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1 pint lobster stock or 1 jar clam juice
  • 18-24 cherrystone or littleneck clams
  • 2 large filets of flounder (about 1 pound total)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1.  Husk the corn and then strip off the kernels using a sharp knife. (I find that doing this over a shallow bowl keeps the kernels from rolling away and also allows me to capture any of the milky liquid that they exude.) Reserve about four cobs’ worth of kernels for your chowder and freeze the rest for succotash, cornbread or the like. Throw the denuded cobs into a large pot with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for half an hour–or as long as it takes you to get through the next couple of steps.Corn Broth
  2. Dice your bacon, onions, celery, and green peppers. Mince the garlic and jalapeño. Chop the potatoes. Chat about anything and everything. Have a nosh if you like.Barbara Chopping
  3. Add the bacon to a large pan and bring up to medium-low heat. Once the fat has mostly rendered and the bacon pieces are just starting to firm up, add the onions. Saute until they are starting to soften and then add your celery and various peppers. Once these have started to soften, add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. The key is to soften everything up without allowing it to brown. Season with salt and pepper.Chowder Base
  4. Pull the corn cobs out of your soup pot using tongs and then dump your vegetable mixture into the pot along with the diced potatoes. Add the lobster stock or clam juice, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Put the clams in a bowl, cover with cold water, and add some black pepper or cornmeal. (This step, while not strictly necessary, will encourage the clams to spit out their sand, avoiding a certain amount of grit in the finished product.) Leave the pot to simmer for a half hour or more while you retire to the living room for some more chatting.
  5. Now is a good time to wake Barbara’s husband Chris up from his nap so that he can ready himself for chowder.
  6. Add the butter. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add your clams and then lay the flounder in gently. Cook until the clams pop open (roughly 15 minutes), by which time your flounder should be white and opaque. Finish with the corn kernels and some fresh parsley.Corn and Seafood Chowder

We ate our chowder in Barbara’s rather perfect Fiestaware bowls, using hunks of bread to soak up the delicious broth. It made for a truly excellent early autumn lunch.

Corn and Seafood Chowder 2