Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Polenta-stuffed collard rolls

This is my Italianiated version of a grits-stuffed collards recipe from Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern cookbook.

Step one is to soften the collard greens. I blanched them for one minute, but the original steamed them. That's probably a better idea as there's more steaming later and you don't end up with an extra potful of water to deal with.

Step two is to make a fairly stiff batch of polenta. I included olive oil, garlic and prosciutto (actually Serano ham, but shred it, frizzle it and add it to polenta and I think you'd have a hard time telling the difference) and finished it off with copious Parmesan and a bit of dried mozzarella.

While that cooled to a workable temperature and a pliable texture, I cut out the tough stems from the collard leaves--six leaves for around 1 1/2 cups of polenta. These were big leaves so I could have used another half cup of polenta, really.

To do the wrap, I overlapped the stem-end lobes of the leaf and placed a 3-Tablespoon dollop of polenta a few inches from the bottom. From there it was just a basic burrito fold--once over, fold in the sides, then a tight roll up.

The rolls went into a steamer for as long as it takes for the collards become as tender as you can expect them to get. It'll vary depending on your leaves; Mine took about 10 minutes.

I served them halved with an herbed tomato sauce dip.

There are a couple small problems with this dish. First, because you have to cut so far up the leaf to excise the tough stem, the rolls want to split open at the seam. That's fine once you're plating and want to cut them in half anyway, but it makes them difficult to manipulate out of the steamer. Second, the flavor of the collards just doesn't mesh with the Parmesan or tomato sauce as well as I had hoped they would. I should have kept it Southern and used Cheddar or Monterrey Jack or some-such and served with hot sauce like the original recipe said to do. Well, it was worth a try.

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