Your New Favorite Leafy Green

Chinese Broccoli, Chinese Kale or Gai-Lan.  These are the names you seek.  Now go…go forth into a new realm and feel all the pleasures that lie within.  For your journey has begun and your world will never be greener.  Lol.2014-02-01 15.03.24

I found this beautifully hearty version at the RSD farmers market.  I was shocked to hear what it was; I’ve only seen it picked younger when it’s thinner and lighter in color, with long tender stalks like this.  It’s always at 99 Ranch, and it’s good!  But it’s different then this stuff.  This healthy older cut is all about the leaves, not the stalk. It looks, cooks and eats like a cross between chard, kale and collard…without the unsavory characteristics of any of them. There was no extreme earthiness like chard, there wasn’t excessive bitterness like collards and it’s more tender then kale.  The problem is, you either have to grow it yourself or have a rad farmers market near you.

This is the next vegetable I will plant…I mean…my wife will plant; and thanks to teh interwebz,  seeds are never hard to find.

This can be sauteed into any dish, or, you can get creative like this.

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Beef and Broccoli

8 leaves Chinese Broccoli
1lb ground beef
1 slice white bread
1/4c milk
1T dry sherry
1T minced garlic
1T minced parsley
salt and pepper
½c olive oil
1 large onion sliced
2T minced garlic
½ dry sherry
1-2 bay leaves
2c beef broth

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Throw in some salt and blanch the leaves for a minute. Remove and plunge into ice water to chill, then remove, and flatten on paper towels. Blot the tops as well and set aside.
Mix the bread and milk until mushy, then stir with the beef, garlic, parsley salt, pepper, sherry . Roll the mixture into 4-5 tubes and coat in flour. Heat the olive oil up in a large saute pan until hot. Brown the meat tubes on three-4 sides and remove. Add the onions to the pan to saute for a minute, or a long time to caramelize. Cook in the garlic for a minute with the bay leaf. Stir in the sherry and reduce by half. Add the beef broth and reduce by half. Meanwhile lay out the leaves over-lapping one halfway over another. Place a meat tube on top and roll like a burrito, then place in an oven dish. Repeat with the remaining product. When the sauce looks reduced and tasty, pour it over the wraps and bake for 15 minutes at 350°. Remove and serve with sour cream and potatoes.

Collagen, Gelatin and Fat, Oh My!

Another year and and another Super Bowl party.  This year we are starting a new tradition for Super Bowl.  From hence forth, Super Bowl Sunday will feature an earthly creature of unknown taste and texture.  To start off this soon-to-be tradition, I give you Suckling pig.

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This of course being my first time eating and preparing it, I wanted to taste the pig as true, simple and unadulterated as possible. I decided to roast it straight up with just some kosher salt in a 350 degree oven for 4 hours.  I made a couple mistakes but overall it went according to plan.  It was decadently moist and the skin was crispy.  Texturally it was out of this friggin’ world.  I’m a collagen, fat and gelatin freak with meat, so this was heaven as far as texture.  The flavor wasn’t bad, it was just a bit boring. I thought it would taste mellower then adult pork, but it’s “milky” quality, was actually more pronounced then expected. But still a flavor no one could really put their finger on.  “I recognize I’m eating pork, but it’s different.” We served it with an wonderful market salad and sticky rice. I’m glad I tasted it as is, now my mind is bursting with ideas to make it epic since the texture is so easy to achieve.  Next time I’ll brine and cook with aromatics, then add sweetness to the crispy skin.  It was a really cool experience though…I dove straight into the head.  Cheeks, ear, jowl, tongue, brain and snout. I wanted the parts of the animal that stores don’t carry. Everything was great except the brain. The sticky fatty texture was fine, but I can’t seem to enjoy anything tasting like offal…the irony, mineral quality is not something I’ve learned to enjoy :-|

To procure said piglet, I wanted local but failed and found it online at Exotic Meat Markets. After hemming and hawing on the price ($160 + $35 shipping), I ordered it Monday, shipped on Thursday, arrived Friday and unbeknownst to me…sat on my porch for 3-4 hours :-( We cooked it before the game on Sunday so we were free to focus on the game. Of course that was a mistake as the game was a snoozer…unless you’re a Seahawk fan. Still, a great day with family, friends, food and football.

Our lovely complimentary salad
Our lovely complimentary salad