Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Carolina chicken collard greens stew

Unlike a lot of recipes I make, there aren't a lot of variations of this one on the web. There's just one and it's only on two pages. According to those pages, it was created by Candace McMenamin of Lexington, South Carolina. I just googled her; she's doesn't have a webpage of her own, but she shows up in a whole lot of cookoff finalist and winner lists. Here's an article with an interview with her if you're interested.

I didn't make any changes (other than halving the amount) when making her recipe so I don't feel right making any changes in writing it up either. I'm only borderline comfortable in reposting it here. Here's her recipe as she presents it:


"This is one of my family's favorite recipes. Collard greens are plentiful here in the South, and I developed this recipe to showcase them in a stew. Some folks say they don't like the taste of collards, but I believe that is because they have not had them fixed correctly. Trust me, anyone who tries this stew with a chunk of homemade corn bread will be begging for the recipe."
Candace McMenamin, Lexington, South Carolina
Serves 4

• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 celery stalk, sliced
• 1 medium carrot, sliced
• 1 large potato, diced
• 1 tablespoon chopped thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 tablespoon chopped basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1 tablespoon chopped oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons white vinegar
• 4 cups loosely packed chopped collard greens
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 4 crisply cooked bacon slices
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Heat the chicken broth and 3 cups water in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken thighs. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until thoroughly cooked, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon; keep warm.

2. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, thyme, basil, and oregano to the broth. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the sugar, vinegar, collard greens, salt, and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce die heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

4. Shred the chicken into 1-inch strips and add to the stew; mix well. Simmer over medium heat until the chicken is thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes.

5. Ladle the stew into 4 shallow soup bowls. Crumble 1 bacon slice over each serving. Sprinkle pecans over the top. Serve immediately.

And as long as I'm giving credit, the cornbread I made was from a recipe by professional food writer Cyndi Allison. Here's here FoodBuzz profile.

Is this the right etiquette for this sort of situation? I really don't know.

Anyway, it's a darn good stew. The collards are just barely tender--the thicker bits not quite. The flavor hasn't been boiled out as it would be in a mess of greens; the broth tastes more of the herbs and aromatics while the collards are fresh and bright with their own contrasting flavor.

Funny that there's so little chicken flavor. It's just outclassed by all these great vegetables. I don't think I'd leave it out, though. It's an important background flavor element and an important part of the texture. You could easily halve it, though.

I'm also surprised at how good the pecans are as a component, lending not just toastiness, but their own distinct buttery nutty flavor, to the mix. I've never considered them as a garnish on a savory dish before. And, of course, you can't go wrong with bacon.

The cornbread is straightforward with good corn flavor and just a touch of sweetness. It's moist enough that you can eat a piece on its own, but dry enough to soak up the soup. A nice accompaniment.


kat said...

Sounds like some good Southern cooking.

Karen said...

Bill - saw your comments about the mint. Now if you just don't like it, it's not worth the trouble, but our rabbits love it so we try to stretch it. Took off the rubber band and put it in a glass of water, just enough for the bottoms to be in without drowning the whole stem. Sitting under an under-cabinet florescent light in the kitchen, it's making roots and sending out new leaves. Maybe you'd get enough for some ice cream after all!

Or, lacking house rabbits (probably a wise choice), maybe try it for yourself in a salad with a little minced onion (something light - spring, scallion, shallot, red) and beans (fava, edamame, black-eye peas ... whatever, maybe even green beans) and a citrus vinaigrette. Nice Spring taste, good lunch.