Friday, September 5, 2008

Sauteed Collards with Cayenne Lemon Sauce

Many folks down south like to boil a big pot of collard greens with some fatback, and serve them up with a splash or two of a vinegary hot sauce, like Texas Pete. Here's an "uptown" spicy twist on this southern favorite. You can substitute kale for the collards if you prefer. For those who aren't counting calories or fat grams, you can substitute bacon fat for the olive oil. By boiling the shredded greens briefly, they soften up so that they're ready to finish cooking by sauteeing.

3 to 4 fresh cayenne peppers (you can de-seed to reduce heat)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (use red onion if sweet unavailable)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 large bunch of collard greens or kale, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil (NOT extra virgin, because its smoke point is too low) or bacon fat
Salt to taste

Start by making the Cayenne Lemon Sauce: Puree the peppers, garlic, onion and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor or blender. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl, stir in the lemon juice, and let stand in the refrigerator for 1 hour to blend the flavors.

While the sauce is standing, cook the greens: Fill a large soup pot or stock pot with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, use a sharp knife to cut the tough stems from the collards or kale, and then shred the leaves by bunching together and slicing finely. Dump the shredded greens into the boiling water, plunging with a wooden spoon or a ladel to make sure all the greens are submerged. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove pot from heat and drain the greens into a colander to remove as much water as possible. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil (or bacon fat) over medium-high heat and then add the drained greens. Be careful, as they might spatter. Gently saute the greens until crisp-tender. Remove from heat and serve immediately, spooning the Cayenne-Lemon Sauce on top to taste. You can store leftover sauce in an airtight container in your fridge for a few days, and add it to other dishes - it's great on fish and seafood, or turn it into a marinade or grilling sauce for fish and poultry by adding some olive oil.

Zestfully yours,

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