September 16, 2013
Smoked Pork, Collard Greens and Bean Stew with Polenta Dumplings
A few months ago I picked up a netted piece of pork. I immediately thought I got lucky and there was a cut of pork shoulder that was small enough for two. I was half right. It was a chunk of pork shoulder but the label said it was smoked. I thought about it for a minute and figured if it was smoked like a brisket, this would be good so I plopped it in my basket.
When I got home I gave it a closer look and read the directions and was then informed that the whole package, netting included, should be boiled in a pot of water for 2-3 hours until a skewer could slide easily into the meat. I was getting the sinking feeling this hunk of meat was not just smoked like a brisket, it was corned like one too. Oh, what the hell. Too late to go back, I put up a pot of water, threw in a few bay leaves, some peppercorns and a quartered onion.
2.5 hours later, my meat was tender and sitting happily on a plate to cool.
Since I have no patience, this wasn't easy to do, I so wanted to cut into that netting and see exactly what I had. Please tell me there are others of you out there that are the same way. You know, can't stop yourselves from cutting into that banana bread while it is still warm, or eating a brownie before it's time? Oh, and how many times have you burnt your mouth because you just had to have that slice?? Ha, I got ya!
As I cut into the hot meat and tried to remove the netting without burning my fingertips, I did see meat that looked like a corned beef brisket, smelled like a smoked ham hock and shredded like a pork butt. I honestly had no idea what to do with it, so I broke it in thirds and put them in the freezer.
I eventually used a piece for hash, another found it's way into a Jambalaya and the last bag was used to flavor this dish of beans and collards.
I used the same crockpot for cooking both, but I did them separately, not sure if I wanted the beans for a soup and not wanting to pick them out between the greens. Easy enough, I did the beans overnight and the collards the next day.
Once the beans were cooked I spidered them out of the broth and replaced them with a bag of washed and chopped collards.
I took a spoonful of each (including the highly flavored broth), steamed cornmeal dumplings and an egg joined the party and dinner was served. Last week for one day the temperature dipped into the 40's and since The Nudge was traveling, I had a great little healthy dinner with a nice glass of Pinot Gris and slept with a warm belly, a blanket and my two guard cats.
Made 6 dumplings, 4 cups of bean and collard mixture
* 1 ham hock or three slices hickory-smoked bacon
* 2 cans pink beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 cup onion, chopped
* 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 bay leaf
* Pinch red pepper flakes
* 1 (16oz) bag chopped collard greens
* 3.4 ounces all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup green onion
* 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
* 1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Place meat, beans, onion, garlic, chicken stock, water, bay leaf and pepper into the crock of a slow cooker. Set the timer to start at bedtime and end in the morning (low for 8 hours).
2. Strain mixture into a large bowl and pour the broth back into the cooker.
3. Add the collards and set the timer for another 8 hours, on Low.
4. When ready to serve, add broth, collards, and beans a stock pot. Turn stove on low to heat.
5. Mix the flour, green onion, cornmeal, soda and butter in a processor until the butter is the size of peas. Add the buttermilk in and pulse until mixture starts to turn around inside the container.
6. Spoon golf ball sized dumplings into the stockpot, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Break one-two eggs per person, into the broth and cover and simmer ten more minutes.
Season with salt & pepper and serve.