Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sweet & Sour (Tree Crop) Chard

A recipe, plain and simple, which takes chard's beetiness and melds it with the sweet and sour flavors that go so well with...beets. We were forced to use alien chard, alas, from California this was. But we dressed it right local, with some of the last market onion, and our own cider vinegar and maple syrup. Our vinegar is quite mellow, not as acidic as most commercial products, so if you think yours is more on the harsh side, you could add one tablespoon, let it cook a bit, and see if you think it needs more. You can get a very nice unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in bulk at many co-ops.

On the sweet side: A tablespoon of syrup made it a little sweet for my taste, but Mary thought it was just right. Again, you can add some of the syrup, taste, see what you think. The stock rounds out the flavors nicely, but if you don't have any, use water and stir a bit of butter in at the end. This dish accompanies rich meats, like duck, pork, or sausage, very well.

Sweet & Sour (Tree Crop) Chard
serves two generously

5-6 good-sized chard leaves (2 cups chopped)
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock (or 1/2 cup stock, 1/2 cup water)
2 good pinches salt
a few grinds black pepper
2 to 3 tsp maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
options: a bit of thyme, a small knob of butter stirred in at the end

Cut the thick ribs out of the chard leaves, and slice these diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces. Tear or cut each leaf into four or five pieces. Heat a 10-inch skillet or the like, and add the olive oil, then the onion and the chard rib pieces. Add a couple of pinches of salt, the stock (or stock and water, or water). Cover and cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the chard is starting to soften. Then add the chard leaves, and as soon as they wilt into the liquid add the vinegar and maple syrup. Cook uncovered for another three to four minutes, until the chard is tender to taste and the liquid is somewhat reduced. Taste for salt, sweet, and sour. Serve in a dish.

Text and photos copyright 2010 by Brett Laidlaw


el said...

Looks yummy! And chard spans the seasons well when you've not got the new beets.

You'd think I would like chard for how well it grows, but...it's a favorite crop for the chickens only, I am afraid. It overwinters here okay if the voles don't find it. My favorite treatment is sauteed and stuffing some crepes.

Unknown said...

Looks and sounds wonderful. I'm going to try it. I find chard difficult to prepare (other than stir fry)and this may be an answer.

Trout Caviar said...

So it occured to me that a splash of sambal, or a good pinch of cayenne or crushed red chili would be good in there.

El, Charlie, I agree, chard doesn't generally top my list. But as El notes, it is frequently abundant, and in this case, ruby red, glistening, and cheap at the co-op, it was impossible to resist.

The French often set the leaves aside and just cook the ribs, which they call "blettes." I like to toss those with olive oil, lemon, s & p, and put them on the grill, just as you would asparagus or zucchini spears.

Cheers~ Brett

Sylvie in Rappahannock said...

I love chard.Thanks for a new-to-me take on it.

And I will let you know that not all the French discard the leaves. Although they definitively grow some cultivars that are mostly stems and not much greens. The leaves are "bettes" (betterave is beet-root, literaly, since as you know, beetroot and swiss chard are - botoanically speaking the same thing). The stems are "cardes", but the term is not specifici to chard, it just means fleshly stem as in "cardons" (cardoons).

How much do I love chard? I grow over half a dozen cultivars - including some with very thick stems (and one with almost no stems) - and different colored leaves or stems, and many many plants...