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Pans and Perspective

You provide the food and I will provide the perspective." – Anton Ego, 2007

Category

Re-purposing Food

Collards: All in one meal

Collard greens are a staple food for many southern cuisines. The green leafy vegetable takes hours to cook down and reduce so that you can eat it with ease.

When making collards two by-products are often discarded; both the stems and cooking liquid are not used to their full potential. For hundreds of years have known of the medicinal properties of pot liquor, or the cooking liquid left over from cooking collards. It is extremely high in nutrients especially iron, and when reduced creates a rich “soup” that can be enjoyed with the greens.

Yields 8 Portions

Ingredients:
5# Collard Greens
1 Gal Chicken Stock or Water
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic Minced
Ham Hocks (skinless) or Bacon (Optional) – Feel free to add as much pork product as you want. If you add hocks or slab bacon make sure to remember that the more you use the more pork flavor you will develop. This also helps enhance the pot liquor’s flavor as well.

Method

  1. Wash the collards and comb through them to find debris. You might find rotten pieces as well as tag along guests, caterpillars. Once washed, fold the collard leaves along the stem and gently pull. They will separate easily from the stem and you wont have to use a knife.
  2. Once removed from the stem break the collards apart. You can tear them so they are no larger than 3 inch squares. They do not have to be perfect.
  3. Cut the stems in half and hold them until the collards are done.
  4. You can do one of two things to cook the collards. (If you are short on time, blanch the collards until they wilt, in boiling salted water. Remove and then place in a new pot and add stock, pork product and reduce.)
  5. My personal favorite and recommended procedure would be to place pork product in the pan and render out the fat. Once the pork product has begun to brown add the garlic and onions gently saute in the pork fat. Once golden brown, add the stock, quickly do this because the garlic can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly. Once the stock is added, add the greens and then cook until tender. This can take up to 2 hours. Make sure to cook on a low heat setting, in a covered pot, constantly stirring for the cooking duration. You may have to add more liquid during the cooking.
  6. Once the greens are tender strain out the liquid, do not throw this away. If you used ham hocks, remove them and the meat should fall off the bone. Save the meat and bones. Take the strained liquid, place in a sauce pot and place on medium heat. Reduce by about a third and then add the ham hock bones and meat. Cook for another 5 minutes and then strain the mixture. It can be done through a colander, some meaty bits will fall through but they will add great flavor to your pot liquor.
  7. Discard the bones and add the meat to the collards and liquid back to the greens.
  8. Quickly saute the stems. Heat a pan to high heat and add a splash of pot liquor and butter. Throw in the stems and cook for about one minute. They will still be very firm and have a crunch which is a nice contrast from the cooked greens. Add in a scoop of collards, make sure there’s plenty of liquor and meat! Season and serve!
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Crispy Potato Skin Garnish

It is not uncommon for you to go to a restaurant and see potato skins on the menu. Those stuffed skins typically come from the scraps of potatoes used for french fries and potato chips. The food industry re-purposes them in order to help lower food cost.

A little over a week ago, I was watching someone work with potatoes. After cleaning each potato, she picked up her knife and began to chiffonade, or finely shave, the skins. She ended up with hundreds of tiny 2 inch strings. I asked her what she did that for, she said that in her family, they would typically save the skins and use them for garnish. Just take some flour and lightly dust them. Pan fry them for no more than 30 seconds and then you have a crispy, tasty garnish that helps lower food waste.

Ingredients

Clean Potato Skins
Butter or oil
Flour

Instructions:

  1. Clean the potatoes and peel them. You can always use this garnish for whatever potato dish you are making.
  2. Line a small bowl with about an inch of flour. Make sure the skins are completely dry. Carefully lower the skins into the flour and mix.
  3. Using a strainer, strain out skins from the flour and reserve.
  4. Heat pan to medium heat and coat generously with fat. If you have access to one, a deep fat fryer is the easiest way to do this.
  5. Drop the skins in the hot fat, making sure not to splatter the oil.
  6. Cook until golden brown, no more than 30 seconds. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack to let excess fat drain. Using a paper towel will only cause the item to re-absorb the excess fat.

If kept in an airtight container the garnish should last for a few days.

This is an easy way to reduce the amount of waste you have when you make a dish with potatoes. Mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, soups or even french fries can be complimented with this garnish. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cheesecake

While I’m certain that this has been done before, I still had a great time making this and the result was awesome.

I got this idea when I had just finished preparing the gingerbread squares used for the gingerbread ice cream sandwiches at The Perfect Caper. Every time I prepped this item there was always a significant amount of waste that was either eaten by the staff or thrown away. Rather than waste the remains, I took them home and toasted them on a sheet tray to that they could be turned into dust.
Here’s what I did:

Makes 1 Cheesecake

Ingredients

2C Gingerbread trim (Reserve 1/2C of toasted trim) – If you make a gingerbread item and have either stale gingerbread or scraps left over you can use that as well
1/2C Melted Butter
8oz Cream Cheese
2 Eggs
1C sugar – If you want the taste of the cream cheese to be the main flavor reduce the sugar by 1/4C
1T Vanilla Extract
.5t Courvoisier Cognac (Optional) – Whiskey or rum work just as well

Hard Icing:
1 Stick Salted Butter
1.5C Confectioners Sugar
2.5T Courvoisier Cognac – Whiskey or rum work just as well

Method:

  1. Set oven to 325. Rough Chop gingerbread scraps and place them on a sheet tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Toast them in the oven until the edges begin to crumble, check in increments of 5 minutes. Once toasted place scraps in a food processor and process until a fine dust. Place in an airtight dry container until ready to use. Once dust is complete raise oven temperature to 350.
  2. While scraps are toasting make the cheesecake base. Combine eggs and cream cheese in a mixer and cream together until uniform in color. With the mixer on gradually add the sugar. Finish with the vanilla extract and, if used, liquor. Hold item in covered bowl in refrigerator.
  3. The hard sauce is simple but it can be done ahead or you can do it while the cheesecake is cooking. Make sure the butter is room temperature and soft. Cream sugar and butter together until peaks form. Place the sugar in first gently and place the butter on top. (This will help prevent a kick up of sugar when you first start mixing it. If you have plastic wrap and are using a standing mixer, wrap the cage to prevent sugar kick up.) Once peaks form add the liquor. Taste your hard sauce, if you feel you need more bite add more liquor, if you need to tone it down add more sugar. It will take some fooling around to get it to your desired taste. Once sauce is made, place in a corning-ware dish or ramekin in refrigerator and let set.
  4. Make sure oven has been returned to 350. Grease a pie plate with whole butter. The best way to do this is by taking a hard stick of butter and rubbing it over the entire surface of the pie dish.
  5. Create the crust for the cheesecake. The reason why this is not done ahead is to keep the dust crispy and free of clumps. Melt the butter and combine with the crumbs. Small bowls may begin to form, break them up with a whisk so that the final mixture looks somewhat malleable.
  6. Once dish has been greased, create a 1/4 inch layer of crust on the bottom of the pan. It is player preference but I like my crust to run up the sides of the pan. If it is a flat sided pan, like a spring form, you may have difficulty doing this. Toast crust in oven for about 2 minutes, you will begin to smell gingerbread.
  7. Once crust has been toasted, gently spoon in the cheesecake mixture. Be careful not to dump the mix in at once because it will make pockets in the crust. Wait until all the cheesecake mixture is in the pan before smoothing the top or you will mix the crust into the bottom of the cheesecake.
  8. The next part is entirely up to the chef. I prefer to place the reserved dust on top after the cheesecake is cooked so they don’t burn but you may put them on ahead of time as long as you watch it. Either dust or don’t, the cheesecake and then place in oven. If you dust the top before it is baked about 7-10 minutes into the cooking time cover the cake with foil so the top doesn’t burn. It should be firm when you take it out and wiggle it around, you can also test with a toothpick.
  9. Let cheesecakes cool for at least an hour and then place in the refrigerator. Before serving garnish each piece with a generous dollop of hard sauce

I hope that you can enjoy this recipe. Share your comments, recommendations and pictures below!

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