Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Greens...and Garlic?

Growing up in the south I never ate greens. I think it was because of the whole pork phobia we had. Usually, anything associated with greens, was associated with pork.

In my limited knowledge, me thinks all of the fatback/bacon/pork shanks/ham hocks...PIG, was used to counterbalance the natural bitterness of most greens. Having had greens a few times after the religious pork ban was lifted, I never fell in love with them.

They were too bitter, and too wilted (dadgummit if people didn't try to cook the bitterness out of them by overcooking them), floating in some sort of yellow/greenish/brown juices...blechhh...not worth my chewing time and effort especially when many other yummies existed on the platter (fried chicken, bar-b-que, etc).

Then I met Alton Brown and his most recent book "Good Eats, The Early Years". He has a dynamite recipe for greens. Honestly, I have never had greens so good. The trick...garlic, and well...not overcooking them. To paraphrase the chemistry behind the magic...

Garlic contains the compound "Alliin" and enzyme "Allinase". They are seperated via cellular layers within the garlic. When you slice into garlic, the compound and enzyme combine giving you a pungent aroma of the new compound Allicin. Thusly, if you crush the cells together in a garlic press, you have a more pungent smell and taste because you broke and combined more cellular layers. If you roughly chop the garlic and penetrate less layers, less smell...less "Garlickey" taste. If you roast the garlic whole...a nutty/sweet aroma/flavor. For this recipe, we'll stop and settle that we want more "Garlickeyness". So, finely mince your garlic, or use a garlic press if you have one.

What is genius about this recipe is that the garlic counterbalances the bitterness of the greens...thusly making them more buttery and more palatable, also giving the ability to not have to cook them to "death" in order to render out the bitter taste. We also add bacon. Why? Bacon makes everything better.

The recipe is listed below. Sorry I didn't photograph our greens...they disappeared before the camera came out. We used this recipe once with Swiss Chard and once with Collard Greens. The result = good. And if you ever watched the movie "Jerry McGuire", the famous line "You had me at hello, you had me at hello"...was originally "You had me at bacon...and garlic" of course.

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