My daughter’s 3rd grade class has a garden. Friday, we were able to buy swiss chard from their harvest. Big, bright green leaves. I came home with a bag and thought, “What can I make with this?” I know how to do the basic sauteed chard thing, but wanted it to be a little more gussied up. We had come over the summer to water and weed, and I felt protective of it–I did not want that bag of swiss chard to become forlorn and fuzzy in the veggie drawer.
First I peeled the leaves from the stalks, washed them and then chiffonaded them. Then I washed the stalks and chopped them. I had a bag of big, beautiful shallots from the farmer’s market, and chopped about 6 of them too (3/4 cup). And I grabbed an apple, peeled it, and diced it. I noticed that after it was going for a while, it could use a little bit of culinary jazz hands. That’s when I added the sherry wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and later, the maple syrup. Hello!
1 bunch chard, stalks chopped and leaves chiffonaded. Keep stalks separate from leaves during prep.
1/2 cup shallots or a mild onion, sliced and then chopped
1 tart apple, peeled and diced
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
Maple syrup to taste
1 cup broth and/or water
Heat up broth in a saute pan. Once it’s bubbling, add chopped chard stalks (say that 3 times fast) and shallots. Stir, coat. Keep an eye on it, periodically stirring and adding liquid to prevent sticking for 5 minutes. Then add apples and chard leaves, stirring to combine everything. Add 1 tbsp. of sherry wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. of toasted sesame oil and mix them in.
NOTE: You might wonder why the sherry wine vinegar. Why bother with it when you have red wine vinegar? Because…there’s just something so sublime about the sherry, sesame and maple syrup combination. You can make do with another vinegar but it won’t have the particular mellowly complex, golden, virtuosic flavor that I love about this dish.
Once the leaves are wilted, cover the pan, lower the heat to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. When you do lift the cover, the hash should be soft but also have a little crunch. Drizzle some maple syrup on the mixture, give it a stir, and then serve. It’s so colorful–and even moreso if you use rainbow chard.
We had it alongside a roasted chicken, with gravy and mashed potatoes.
I’m on this kick with roasting chickens in a big cast-iron covered pot. I got the idea from the latest Canal House Cookbook.
I put a whole chicken, rubbed with olive oil, salted and peppered, into my pot, add 2 cups of water, and then a sprig of any herbs I have on hand. I bake it at 375 for 45 minutes, covered, then remove the cover, baste it, and bake it for another half hour.
The chicken comes out incredibly moist (especially the white meat, which has a tendency to dry out otherwise). It basically steams for the first 45 minutes, and then gets a chance to crisp up and brown during the second step. I put the chicken on a cutting board to rest, then get going on the gravy. Luckily, since the juices are in a pot already, I put it on a burner and get it up to a rolling boil. Like my mama taught me, I whisk a few tablespoons of flour into a cup of water, then add it, stir it in to the rolling broth, and soon it’s thickened into wonderful spoon-coating gravy. Depending on the proportions, sometimes I have to add a second round of floury water, but I do so sparingly, since I don’t want to dilute the gravy too much.
And a little word on the potatoes: I finally got a potato ricer, after years of hearing that it makes the most divine potatoes in the world. I boiled them, riced them, put them in Baby’s mixing bowl (Baby is our pale blue KitchenAid mixer), with hot skim milk, and about 1.5 tablespoons of Earth Balance. I let the mixer do its magic. Then I sprinkled 2 tablespoons parmesan on top, covered the mixing bowl, and put it in the oven to stay warm while everything else finished up. That little bit of cheese got melty and gooey…adding a ton of decadent impact with only a tad bit of fat.
I am so glad that little bag of swiss chard inspired me to make such a unilaterally well-received meal. I practically got carried out of the room on everyone’s shoulders.
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