Anyone who reads this blog has already noticed that sometimes I get in the mood to do a recipe and heat of the oven be damned! Tonight was one of those cases after I saw an Alice Waters recipe for Swiss Chard posted by The Wednesday Chef. It had to be eaten.
But before I talk about the recipe, I had a question for you foodies out there — I know that Alice Waters inspired, well, everybody, but who do you consider was particularly influenced by her within the following generations of leading chefs ?
Swiss Chard Gratin
Adapted from The Wednesday Chef who adapted from Alice Waters. This amount serves about 4 as a side dish. The use of a cast iron pan in making this dish reduces washing up!
1 bunch of swiss chard (8-10 large leaves)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp flour
1/2 to 1 cup milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
Tear up some bread and make pea-sized breadcrumbs in a food processor. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron pan and lightly brown the breadcrumbs over medium heat. Remove and set aside in a small bowl.
Preheat oven at 350F.
Get some lightly salted water boiling in a large pot. Wash the chard and cut away the stems. Thinly chop the stems (just like chopping celery). Place the chopped stems in the boiling water and cook for two minutes, then add the green leaves of chard, and cook for another three minutes, then drain in a collander and press some of the excess moisture out of the leaves.
Add 2 tsbp of butter to your cast iron pan and saute the diced onion over medium-low heat until it turns translucent. Remove the chard from the collander, loosely chop, and add to the cast iron pan. Add some salt and continue sauteing for several minutes.
Add the flour and stir in well. Then add 1/2 cup of milk, the pinch of nutmeg, and stir and cook for another 5 minutes. You want the mixture to be moist but not soupy, so continue to add small increments of milk as you go to keep the proper level of moisture.
Remove from heat, and taste for salt. You can optionally add a little more butter here (say 1/4 tbsp cut into small pieces and sprinkled around). Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top evenly and place in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
Let’s just say that I did not leave leftovers.
Dry Rub Pork
I continue to experiment with dry rub combinations. Tonight I removed sugar all together and combined roughly equal portions of mustard seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, black peppercorns, and salt in a mortar for grinding. I rubbed the spice mix on the pork and let the chops sit for about 40 minutes before grilling — searing on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes a side and then moving to indirect heat on the grill for a few minutes more (these were big chops). The result was very good.
Dinner all combined was the grilled pork chop, side of chard gratin, and a side of some roma beans boiled for 2 minutes on the side and a touch of salt — all paired with a nice Malbec.