Rainbow Chard has to be the most artistically attractive leafy thing in the Organic Greens bin at my store. How, when I enjoy chard anyway, can I resist?
This stuff is eye-delicious even before you eat it!!
But a day or so went by, and suddenly I realized the beauty would soon be limp if I didn’t snap to it and prepare it.
At first I thought of the old Dutch tradition in our family of steaming it in its own droplets from the rinsing, and then chopping it, returning it to the pot with some salt, pepper, nutmeg and a slosh of cream. MMMMMmmmmm. This is divine to my memory’s taste buds.
BUT, there was also this notion that I should do something with the overly tenderized (left the crock pot on low overnight-oops) chicken mélange that tasted marvelous, but was no longer any particular shape. The bones were all distributed among the various veggies in the bone broth I had added. What to do with THAT?
Aside: Creating beautiful tastes in the kitchen is really very very like making a painting. Many artists also revel in cookery I have found, and I have found out why over the years. You keep nurturing the ingredients into more alluring arrangements, just as you do colors on a canvas. You check all along the way to see how this works, and whether that would make it even better, and then you decide it needs a dash of this or a squirt of that. Same identical process, but you use your tastebuds and nose instead of your eyes.
So I began inventing by straining the juice out of my crockpot contents, and then weeded through the strainer finding as many bones as I could. I took out veggies that were depleted, or otherwise not necessary, and saved the meat, shredding what was not already shredded. There…I had shredded, savory chicken.
Then I looked up Stuffed Cabbage. Wonderful recipes online, and I studied Jeff Nimoy’s great site carefully. His grandmother had some very good ideas. (Jeff Nimoy’s a pretty accomplished person, by the way. Check it out.)
So, would it work if I used Rainbow Chard instead of Cabbage? And chicken instead of beef? And did a few more maverick changes to fit the contents of fridge and cabinets? I wrote to Nimoy to ask, but couldn’t wait for an answer. Just went out and DID IT!
It did work, I am delighted to report, and the result was a sublime mess of chicken and freshly added onion and herbs and some curry and a few chopped tomatoes, and an egg… turned into a sort of meat loaf by squishing with my bare (washed) hands! (like Nimoy’s grandma).
Then I blanched the chard, snipped out the hard part of the stem so I could wrap easily, and just rolled meat blobs up like babies in the lovely limp chard leaves and nested them snugly like babies into a greased loaf pan.
I made a sauce from the juices I had strained out of the crock pot.
Aside: STOCK OF STOCKS AND BROTHS:
. Did I mention that the juices were comprised of delicious broth from some session or other that I pried out of my freezer? The very best thing I learned in the past twelve months is that home-made broth/stock is the most wonderful thing in the whole kitchen. Always there if you keep that stock pot faithfully simmering carcasses of meat meals. I just jam baggies of broth into the freezer knowing I will use them freely as I need them, and they never seem to last all that long. My favorites are the bone broths I wrote about earlier in this blog, but simply simmering any carcass, or even a combo of meat and/or chicken and/or pork and/or bacon with some great greens and turnips and celery and onions and garlic….you get the idea…. makes wonderful stock that is at the ready for gravies, clay pot creations, crock pot creations, and spiking up a sauce.
Turn on the oven to 375F and then I mix a tablespoon of arrowroot powder with about a quarter cup of the cold juice in a cup, and set aside.
With the left-over bacon fat from this morning with some olive oil added, I lightly sauté some chopped onions and garlic, throwing in my favorite savory dry spices and a bit of grated ginger.
When the herbs are wakened up, I splash in about a quarter cup of my favorite Vendage Pino Grigio dry white wine and scrape up the scrimptums. Then I follow with the juice I had strained, and stir it in and bring to a simmer.
Then I add some diced tomatoes and juice (I’d have used sun dried tomatoes if only I had ‘em), and the juice with arrowroot powder mix. Stir, and watch to a simmer, and then watch a while longer while it begins to thicken.
Taste, correct seasoning, and then you have sauce to dip over your lovely little stuffed chards. Pour it all in.
Aside: I impulsively tucked in lumps of fresh mozzarella that I happened to have. Any cheese would be a nice touch, but no cheese would be necessary.
Covered the dish with foil, and placed it in a larger baking pan with a rack in it putting about a half inch of water in the bottom pan. This was to temper the heat so no tender chards would burn.
About half an hour later, I turned off the heat. Left it in there to settle until the housemate turned up, and we feasted with groans of delight.
About the chard for breakfast? Hey, I was famished this morning when I got up, and I seized upon two of those babies to have with my breakfast coffee. Wonderful!! Really such a wonderful thing. Heated in the microwave in a bowl, it was even better than my usual meaty, cheesy omelet.