Friday, September 08, 2006

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens. So good for you..

My diet consists of whatever I can scrounge out of the fridge in the morning (typically yogurt) and then whatever is being served at family meal at the restaurant (typically pasta with leftover sauce). I am most likely developing scurvy. I clearly do not get my RDA of leafy greens, which apparently we should be eating with every meal so that we can be big and strong and live till 100 and have no free radicals floating about in our systems doing whatever bad things they are wont to do.

Sometimes, though, you don’t want a big old bowl of leafy greens. You don’t even want a side of sautéed spinach. The weather is getting cooler and you want comfort. A big bowl of pasta and cheese, or a duck leg confit. Or just butter, melted on whatever is near at hand. At times like this, you must trick yourself into ingesting the leafy greens while distracted by the cheese, ducks, and butter.

Some, like mustard greens, are face-pinching bitter. I like to balance this bitterness with fat. Mmmm, fat. Fat from the pig or the duck or the rich creamy cheese. Some, like kale, are just so, so leafy. This leafiness can also be successfully offset by fat, which coats the leaves with tastiness. Here’s how (I made these recipes up, so please forgive any kooky errors)…

The easy way:

Tear some kale into bite size pieces and sauté it until it is much smaller in size and not so damn leafy and unwieldy looking. Maybe 10 minutes. Cook some pasta. Bring some gorgonzola cheese and some heavy cream to a boil and reduce slightly, pour over cooked pasta (return to pasta pan and do this over low heat), add the kale, salt and pepper, toss and eat.

The slightly more complicated way:

Pasta with Duck Legs and Mustard Greens

The key to this pasta is that the duck flavors are incorporated three different ways; from the actual duck legs, by cooking the greens in duck fat, and by making the sauce from the fond in the duck pan.

2 duck legs, fat scored
1 large bunch mustard greens
½ lb pasta (I used gemilli)
1 large shallot, minced
½ - 1 cup veal stock (chicken or veg would work too)
1 T butter
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Season the duck legs and place them skin side down in an ovenproof pan coated with a little oil. Render the fat on the stovetop (medium high) until the skin is brown and crispy. Drain the fat into a bowl (reserve!) and flip the duck legs skin side up (still in the pan) and put them in the oven for 7 – 15 minutes or until they reached desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan and set aside. Do not wash pan.

Wash and trim tough stems from mustard greens, cut into strips approximately 1” wide. Place the reserved duck fat in a skillet and sauté the greens until partially wilted, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside, in pan, for finishing with pasta.

Start pasta water. Add shallots to duck pan, sauté until golden, deglaze with wine (optional), and add stock. Simmer stock in duck pan, stirring up brown bits, until reduced by half. While the stock is simmering, cook pasta and bone duck legs, slicing meat and skin into thin strips. Do not discard the tasty crispy skin – this is the best part!
Drain the pasta (reserving a little water to thin sauce if needed) and combine it with the stock, the duck, and the greens over low heat. Stir to coat the pasta, add butter, season with salt and pepper.

In other news, I bought some new tea and was looking at the tea bag tag. It was partially obscured and I misread it to say “reveal yourself” (it was “reward yourself”). Imagine tea drinkers worldwide suddenly flashing open their trenchcoats. Surprise!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a tasty way to use the herd of veal stock in your freezer!

7:36 AM  
Blogger Jeff in NC said...

Leafy greens make the world go 'round!

Tomorrow I am going to Reveal Myself at work! I'll let you know how that goes.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:25 PM  
Blogger Jeff in NC said...

Mebeth - my boss may be calling you. I blamed you....

7:48 PM  

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