Posts Tagged ‘gratin’

We eat a lot of produce in our house, but I feel like we sometimes get in a rut with our veggie side dishes; our go-tos are usually steamed asparagus or broccoli with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. For whatever reason (probably laziness), I tend not to venture too far out of my side dish comfort zone, unless I take the time to find an actual recipe. The 125th episode of Good Eats forced me to try some different side dishes, as it included three recipes for different types of greens, the first being collard greens.

Pot O’ Greens

I can really only recall eating collard greens one time, which was in a Southern-themed wedding buffet. I remember liking them, so I had no qualms about prepping them with Alton’s recipe. Collard greens need to be trimmed and cleaned properly, as they have woody stems and they grow in sandy soil. To trim collard greens, fold a leaf in half along the stem line and use a sharp knife to cut out any stems thicker than 1/8″.

Stack the trimmed flat leaves on top of each other, fold them in half as you did before, and roll them from the bottom up.

Cut the roll of leaves in half the long way and then slice the greens perpendicularly.

Place your chopped greens in a sink full of cold water, swishing them around and allowing them to sit for several minutes; this will allow any sand/dirt to sink to the bottom.

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Trimmed/chopped greens placed in a sink of cold water.

To drain his greens, Alton likes to put his greens in a large zip-up pillow case. He then places the pillow case in his washing machine for one minute on the spin cycle. I did not have a zip-up pillow case, so I opted to roll my greens in a stack of paper towels.

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Cleaned greens on paper towels to dry.

To store trimmed/clean greens, place them in a large plastic bag in the refrigerator. For Alton’s collards, put a 1 1/2 pound smoked turkey leg in a large pot; I could only find a raw turkey leg, so I had to roast it in the oven first. Add a quart of water to your turkey leg, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the turkey simmer in the water for 10 minutes.

Next, add 1 t sugar and 1 t Kosher salt to the pot, along with 2 pounds of trimmed/cleaned/chopped collard or turnip greens.

Place the lid back on the pot and gently simmer the greens for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Be sure to keep the heat very low, as you only want a very gentle simmer.

Use tongs to place the greens in bowls and serve them with hot sauce. To be like a true Southerner, try sipping some of the cooking liquid, which is called “pot liquor.”

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A bowl of Alton’s collard greens after cooking for 45 minutes.

You can also bag and freeze the cooked greens for later use. To thaw frozen collard greens, run the frozen bags under cold running water. I have to be honest that I didn’t enjoy this recipe as much as I expected to. The turkey gave the greens a meaty flavor and the greens were cooked well, so as to maintain a bit of texture instead of being mushy. I found that I needed to add a fair amount of salt to the cooked greens, as they were really lacking in seasoning. Hot sauce definitely gave the greens a needed punch of flavor, as they were otherwise not very exciting. I won’t go out of my way to make these again, but I do hope to encounter collard greens more often, as I hope to sample other preparations. Maybe I am just not as fond of collard greens as I thought I was!

Lemon Sesame Glazed Greens

Alton’s second greens recipe utilizes kale, and you will need 1 1/4 pounds of cleaned/trimmed kale. As with the collard greens above, remove thick stems from the kale leaves, chop the kale, and rinse the chopped greens in a sink of cold water.

While the kale soaks, place a roasting pan over two stove burners on medium heat. I chose to use a large skillet instead of a roasting pan because my burners are different sizes and the roasting pan does not heat evenly. Either way, brush your pan with 1 T olive oil and add 2 cloves of minced garlic and the zest of one lemon.

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Oil, garlic, and lemon zest in the pan.

Next, add 2 t fresh lemon juice to the pan, along with 1 T honey. Follow the honey with 1 1/2 t Kosher salt and 1/4 t pepper, and add your just-washed greens; don’t worry about drying the greens here, as you want some water in the pan. If necessary, add up to 1/2 C additional water.

Use tongs to toss the greens until they have cooked down to resemble thawed frozen spinach. At this point, remove the greens from the heat and stir in 1/2 t red pepper flakes and 1 T sesame seeds.

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Kale cooked down until very wilted. Sesame seeds and red pepper flakes stirred in.

Serve the kale immediately. We liked the flavors in this dish, as the lemon brightened up the greens, while the red pepper flakes gave subtle heat and the sesame seeds gave a bit of nuttiness. The honey served to lightly glaze the greens.

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A bowl of Alton’s lemon sesame glazed greens.

I have never been a huge kale fan, as its chewy texture is just not my favorite, and I found that to be the case with this recipe as well. I think kale lovers would really like this recipe, however, and it comes together super easily with ingredients often on-hand.

Mustard Green Gratin

The third type of green Alton uses in this episode is the mustard green, which he uses to make this gratin. As soon as I saw Alton prepare this recipe, I recognized it from the beet episode. Sure enough, this mustard green gratin is nearly identical to the beet green gratin in episode 83. For the gratin, butter the bottom and sides of a 2 or 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Beat three eggs in a large bowl and add 10 ounces ricotta, 2 ounces grated Parmesan, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

Next, melt 1 T butter in a roasting pan placed over two burners on medium heat. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the pan, along with 12 ounces of sliced mushrooms. Add a large pinch of Kosher salt and toss the mushrooms until they have browned.

Add a pound of stemmed/rinsed/chopped mustard greens and toss until the greens have wilted.

Remove the pan from the heat and use tongs to add the greens to the egg/ricotta mixture. Stir the mixture to combine.

Place the egg/mustard green mixture in your buttered baking dish, avoiding packing down the greens. Sprinkle the top of the greens with 1 C of crushed Ritz crackers.

Bake the gratin at 375 for 35-40 minutes and let cool slightly before serving.

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Alton’s mustard green gratin.

We were not huge fans of Alton’s beet green gratin, but we both really liked the mustard green version. Mustard greens, if you didn’t know, truly do taste like mustard, so they bring a lot of flavor to the party. To me, I specifically tasted a Dijon mustard-like flavor in this gratin, which I found to pair very well with the creaminess of the egg/ricotta mixture. The cracker crust adds some crunchy texture and buttery flavor. This is really good and we both said we would like to eat it again. I’m surprised Alton didn’t make this addition, but I would personally add a little bit of ground nutmeg to the ricotta mixture. This was by far our favorite recipe of this episode, though it doesn’t look too pretty in the photo. Honestly, though, casseroles are just never pretty, right?

I have written before about how much I enjoy beets, so I was highly anticipating an entire Good Eats episode devoted to them. We didn’t really eat beets when I was a kid, so I suppose I really didn’t discover my love of them until I was an adult. These days, beets are in regular rotation at our house, as Ted loves them too.

Pickled Beets

Not only do I love beets, but I also happen to be a fan of anything pickled, so a pickled beet recipe was right up my alley. To make a couple quarts of pickled beets, you’ll need about six medium-sized beets; some of my beets were large, so I cut them in half.

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Some of my beets were large, so I cut them in half before roasting.

Place the cleaned beets on a sheet of foil, along with 2 t olive oil, 2 peeled shallots, and 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary.

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Beets, rosemary, olive oil, and shallots.

Fold the foil up around the beets, crimping the edges to form a packet. Roast the beet packets for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

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Beets, rosemary, olive oil, and shallots, wrapped up in a packet.

While your beets roast, prepare your pickling brine by combining 1 C water, 1 C tarragon wine vinegar, 1/2 C sugar, and 1 1/2 t Kosher salt. Note:  I made my own tarragon wine vinegar by soaking fresh tarragon in boiled white wine vinegar for a few days. I later found tarragon wine vinegar at a store, so I made one jar of beets with my vinegar and the other jar with the purchased vinegar.

Bring the brine mixture to a boil in the microwave, which should take about three minutes on high. When the beets are done roasting, peel and thinly slice them.

You will also want to French one red onion. To French an onion, cut it in half through its stem. Cut a small piece out of each end of the onion halves, as this will allow the pieces to separate. Holding the onion with one hand, angle your knife and cut radially up to the center of the onion. Turn the onion half the other direction, and repeat.

Fill two quart jars with alternating layers of beets and onions, and pour over the hot brine. Let the beets cool before refrigerating.

Ideally, you should let these sit for a week before digging in, and they will last for about a month in the refrigerator. I have two main gripes with this recipe, the first being that the beets needed more time in the oven. The roasted beets had amazing flavor and aroma from the rosemary and shallots, but they were still a bit too firm. My other complaint is that Alton’s brine recipe just does not make enough. I found that one batch of brine was the perfect amount for just one quart of pickles, so you will likely need to double the brine. Aside from my beet pickles being a tad too crunchy, the flavor on these is fantastic.

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Pickled beets and onions after refrigerating for a week.

They are tangy and slightly sweet, and they add beautiful color to the plate. We have been putting pickled beets and red onions on our salads, and they add a lot of texture and flavor. I haven’t added these to pizza yet, but that’s on my list. I plan to make these again once we run out, but I will be roasting my beets for at least 10 minutes more. Oh, and I am re-using my pickle brine to make beet pickled eggs, so we’ll see how those turn out. I simply boiled my brine and poured it over hard-cooked eggs.

Glazed Baby Beets

My mother-in-law happened to serve baby beets at dinner just a few days before I was going to be making this recipe. It turns out that she had ventured to the local farmers market to get her baby beets, so I followed suit and used pretty baby beets from the market.

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Fresh baby beets from the farmers market.

Wash/scrub about 20 baby beets, trimming their greens and leaving just a small stem.

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Cleaned baby beets.

Put the beets in a lidded skillet with 2 C of apricot juice, and place them over medium heat.

Cover the pan and let the beets cook for 10 minutes.

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Baby beets cooking in apricot juice for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, add 3 T white balsamic vinegar and 2 T honey to the pan. Place the lid back on the pan and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook the beets for an additional 10 minutes.

You want your beets to be fork-tender and for a shiny glaze to be left in the pan. If your liquid has evaporated before your beets are tender, add 1/4 C of water to the pan and cook the beets for three more minutes with the lid on over low heat. Conversely, if your beets are done cooking, but there is too much liquid in the pan, remove the beets from the pan and allow the glaze to reduce before adding the beets back to the pan. I actually found that my beets were not tender enough after the 20 minutes of cooking and I also had too much liquid, so I cooked my beets a few minutes longer than Alton recommended, removed them from the pan, and let my glaze reduce before adding the beets back in.

The resulting beets were shiny, ruby red, and had tart sweetness from the combination of apricot juice, white balsamic vinegar, and honey. I wondered if the beet skins would be noticeable, but they really were not.

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Glazed baby beets.

These were pretty, easy, and really quite fast to make, especially compared to most beet recipes. Try these for a pretty side dish while baby beets are still in season.

Beet Green Gratin

If you are looking for a way to use your beautiful beet greens, Alton has a recipe for you to do just that. You will need a full pound of beet greens for this, which, for me, equated to the greens of three bunches of baby beets.

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A pound of fresh beet greens.

Begin by melting 1 T butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Add 12 ounces of sliced mushrooms, cooking them until they are brown and tender.

Next, add your pound of cleaned/stemmed beet greens. I found that it took several minutes for the beet greens to wilt and cook down.

Meanwhile, in a bowl combine 4 egg yolks, 1/2 C grated Parmesan, 1 C ricotta cheese, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper.

Add this cheese mixture to the beet green mixture, stirring to combine.

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Egg/cheese mixture added to the skillet.

Spoon the beet green mixture into a greased casserole dish (with a lid), sprinkling 3/4 C of crumbled Ritz crackers over the top.

Place the lid on the casserole dish and bake it for 45 minutes at 375 degrees (the online recipe tells you to bake it with the lid on for only the first 30 minutes).

I would not go out of my way to make this again. The proportions here seemed a bit off to me, as it was predominantly beet greens.

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Beet green gratin

If you want to taste umami, you will get that here. I think this would be better if the beet greens were chopped, and if the ratio of eggs/cheese to greens were higher. For example, I could see adding chopped, sautéed beet greens to Alton’s refrigerator pie recipe from episode 30. While I like the idea of using my beet greens, this recipe just was not a favorite of mine.