Building a North-South Alliance…One Bowl at a Time

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Stracciatella with Chicken and Collards

As I settle in and make my house a home here in Birmingham (part-time, anyway) I’m reminded, daily, of the differences between my two poles–B’klyn and B-ham. First, there’s the driving…everywhere, then the pace…slow (except in cars) and then the diversity (or lack thereof, so it seems) My beloved Brooklyn (accessible almost entirely by public transportation–and quickly) is home to dozens of cultures, each neighborhood boasting foods, languages and customs from their beloved homes. I long for japchae from Koreatown, babka from Greenpoint, goat roti from Crown Heights and arepas from Red Hook’s soccer fields.  Certainly, there must be some outposts here but I haven’t ventured out far enough yet. Gotta git in ma car! 

But what I have found are friendly people (polite people!) with ready appetites and some decent markets stocked with cool regional ingredients. Obvious are the umpteen brands of bacon, grits/cornmeal products and biscuit mixes. What surprised me, however, was the variety of ready-to-use bagged greens: turnip, mustard, kale, beet, chard, and my favorite, collards.

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pre-washed, chopped and bagged collards

 

I’d ordinarily use escarole in this kind of soup, but a lovely bag of collards, (stemmed and chopped!) was too good to pass up. Like any true immigrant, I make my favorite foods with what’s available. (My grandma used Carolina rice in her arancini) It’s traditional to cook the green right out of greens down here and it’s definitely delicious that way–especially with some smoky pork product. But, and remember I’m an immigrant here, I much prefer my greens green (yet tender) This stracciatella is relatively quick (thanks, B’klyn) and highly nutritious. It fed my soul as much as it did my body. Now all I have to do is figure out how to cook for one! 

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Big ol’ mess of greens–Italian style

STRACCIATELLA WITH COLLARDS AND CHICKEN

Active: 20 min; Total: 40 min

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

 

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 small sweet onion, finely chopped 

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 rotisserie chicken, skinned, meat pulled into shreds, carcass reserved

1 quart low sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

4 cups stemmed chopped collard greens (or turnip, mustard, kale)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 eggs

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for serving

 

1. In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeño and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved chicken bones and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the broth and water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Pick out and discard the bones. Stir in the collard greens and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring once or twice, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile in a small bowl, beat the eggs with the flour and parmesan to form a thick batter and season with salt. Drizzle the mixture into the pot, cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until nearly set. Gently stir once or twice to break the dough into lumps. Fold in the chicken, cover and cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with olive oil and grated parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!