I’m packing up today to to leave for a week, alone. The kind couple who owns Spruceton Inn in the Catskills do this pretty extraordinary thing where they give residencies to writers and artists during their slow season. I applied on a whim, and even when it became a reality it seemed so far away. But now I’m leaving today, and then it’s just me and a project I haven’t started and a room on my own. I feel excited–more excited than daunted, which I think is a good sign. But I also feel a little more strongly than usual that that I need to take special care of the words I put out there. When I think about writing, that’s always what I end up with, that if there’s a page there and I’m going fill it up it better be worth its space (see exhibit A). So before I go, I’d love to do a few things here. First, to talk about one of the businesses that helps to keep this site up and running, second, to give some of their good stuff away, and third, to leave you with something that I hope can be useful, that is–let’s talk about what happens when we braise certain greens with butter.
We’ll start with the butter. In general if you hand me a vegetable, I’m going to steam it. I’m a big believer in the steamer pot (that’s a shorter pot with holes that fits into a larger pot) as opposed to those funny collapsable things that are THE MOST FUN thing in the kitchen drawer for toddlers to play with, but even in a pinch I’ll lazy steam with an inch of water and a covered pot. This is the vegetable cooking method I was raised on, and, picky kid that I was, I probably wouldn’t have grown about 5 feet without my daily dose of steamed broccoli. I’ll steam anything except cauliflower, as cauliflower was put on this earth to be roasted.
An yes, that brings us to roasting, the hip method of the moment way to cook all vegetables. Like most hip food trends ( kimchi, good chocolate, cronuts), it got that way from being delicious, and I fully support roasting.
But then there’s braising, which, in the case of vegetables, involves a bit more water and time than lazy steaming. This all started when Alice Waters (or the army of Californians who make up Alice Waters) told me to braise cabbage in water with a big nob of butter. I think it’s called buttered cabbage in her book, and I’d choose it over most foods. Even if you’re not a cabbage lover, buttered cabbage will turn you.
This method–the hearty green, the inch or two of water, the big knob of butter–it lubricates the very fiber of the green so that it becomes plump and buttery through and through. I’ve come to do this with cabbage whenever I have the chance, but also with broccoli raab and most recently, collards. Lately I’ve been loving the final addition of Fire Cider, a magical spicy concoction which I usually just drink straight (a shot every day, plus extra if I’m not feeling my best), but is so so good with butter and collards. This Fire Cider is made by my friends who, since the last time we spoke of them, have gained full organic certification and have continued to stretch their reach farther across the country, spreading wellness and deliciousness as they go. I feel very proud to have them here in this little county, and especially there in my sidebar.
If you don’t have any Fire Cider, let’s try to remedy that (see giveaway below- hooray!). But if you want to make these greens right now, a fitting substitute in this recipe would be some apple cider vinegar just there at the end, maybe with a little extra garlic and something spicy.
Have a great week, friends. I’ll be back soon, and then maybe it will be spring. In the mean time, I’ve got a gorgeous gift bag from Shire City Herbals Fire Cider. It’s got a great big bottle (trust me, you’ll go through it fast), and a few more exciting goodies. To enter, just say hello. I’ll choose the winner at the end of the day on March 23.
Butter Braised Collards with Fire Cider
2 tablespoons butter
1 large bunch collard greens
3/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons Fire Cider
1. First, prepare the collards: Cut the stem out of each leaf, and roughly chop the stems. Then cut the collard leaves into thin ribbons.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped stems and 1/2 cup of the water and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the stems are tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the collard leaves to the pot along with the remaining 1/4 cup water. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium high, and add the garlic, stirring to combine and toss the greens in the buttery liquid for about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss with 2 tablespoons of Fire Cider. Taste, and add an additional tablespoon of Fire Cider if you like.