In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cooking up a mess of Cajun greens

My men LOVED dinner tonight, praising it as the best batch ever made -- so I'm trying to write down what I did: a little bit of this, and a dash of that...
Originally this dish, called simply FLANKS AND GREENS, came from Paul Prudhomme "Fork in the Road" cookbook, which is a whole lot healthier than his earlier works. His recipe calls for Flank Steak, but you can substitute other beef cuts, or probably other meats as well (moose, anyone?). It's very much a dish along the lines of a meal featuring the vegetables with just a small amount of meat for protein and flavor, without the meat being the central attraction.

Prep-work is the name of the game here -- lots of work goes into getting all the ingredients ready, but it cooks up super fast. Sometimes I make a double batch of meat, and freeze it without any greens, then cook it w/ fresh greens after thawing out (which makes it a super fast meal!)

I slice the meat REALLY thinly, against the grain (stir-fry style) , and work the spice mix into the meat before cooking it. I don't use much meat -- one steak feeds the 4 of us easily.
The spice mix:
1 T cumin seeds, whole
1 t each black and white pepper corns
dried mexican pepper, such as chipotle or poblano
1/2 t mustard seeds
--grind all these in a spice grinder.
1 t each garlic and onion powder
1-2 t thyme
1 t Hungarian paprika
1+ t salt (if that's not enough, add more salt at the end when tasting finished product)
Work this spice mix into the meat slices. Set aside.
also need flour for thickening
optional: Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce (I serve this at the table, esp. if I don't make it very spicy on account of whimpier diners, such as daughters and sometimes myself!)

1-2 onions, chopped
2+ cloves garlic, chopped
1 T+ jalapenos, chopped (fresh or canned)
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch red chard or beet greens
1 bunch kale or collard greens
1 bunch spinach
optional: other bitter greens, such as endives, sorrel, dandelion greens

Prepare all veggies ahead of time: wash and remove tough stems of greens. Chop or rip leaves into smaller pieces (don't bother drying the greens in a salad spinner -- you will need that extra moisture when cooking).

Heat oil in pan and saute onions. Add garlic and jalas. Add meat & spice mix. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Make a roux by adding flour (for thickening) and water as needed.
Once there is a good brown roux, start adding the greens (whatever amount fits, starting with the toughest first, usually kale or collards) and cover with lid, checking occasionally until the greens have cooked down and there's room for the next batch.

Serve over rice. This dish is rich and dark -- not exactly pretty to look at, but tasty and VERY healthy!

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