Last night we had the great pleasure of hosting new friends for dinner. Ryanna, her husband Nick, and their son are emblematic of the community we’ve found in Wilmington, and talking with them over dinner and wine was an absolute treat. Rye is the powerhouse behind the local food community Grub, where she aims, one workshop and consultation at a time, to help people find their way back to healthy, nourishing food. She and I see very eye to eye when it comes to seeking out full, real foods that come from plants and animals and avoiding foods that come from laboratories. It was one of those amazing conversations where I kept exclaiming “EXACTLY! I AGREE EXACTLY! Full fats ARE wonderful! Butter is NOT the enemy!” And that we also got to laugh about life, SciFi, family, and the South? I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner, I feel so lucky to have found them! The more time we spend here the more we really do feel like Wilmington is exactly where we’re meant to be.
I decided to make a dinner that showcased some of my favorite ingredients, so naturally, I served braised shortribs over creamy grits. I also wanted to add a roasted vegetables element to the meal, something that highlighted what is delicious and available this time of year, and also something that complimented the rather dreary dip back into winter weather we’ve been experiencing. I settled on collards, white sweet potato, cremini mushrooms, shallots, and some of Dan’s homemade bacon all cooked in a touch of butter. This kind of vegetable medley is a staple in my repertoire because it goes well with everything from braised meats to a fried egg, and can be made with whatever is available at the market. You could easily add beets, any kind of green, carrots, bok choy, and on and on. Thrown in the bowl along with the grits and the short rib and the vegetables brought all the warmth and earthy flavors I was hoping for along with a host of ingredients I feel great about serving to my guests.
A note- I wanted to thank you for your patience as posting slowed a little here. Now that the marathon is over (hallelujah) and I don’t have 20 mile training runs to fit into my schedule I’m starting to feel like the world is my oyster once again. I’m so excited to dive into the projects we’ve got lined up for this spring and summer!
Slow Cooked Winter Vegetables
1/4- 1/2 stick butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 lb bacon
1 sweet potato
1 bunch collards
2 dozen cremini mushrooms
Salt, pepper, cinnamon, chipotle, to taste
Large cast iron skillet or large frying pan
Slice your shallots, cube your bacon, and dice your garlic. Start half of the shallots and garlic in a pat of butter over medium-low heat. Slowly add in bacon, a few cubes at a time. Peel and cube sweet potato. Stir in to pan, along with spices, adding butter as needed to make sure nothing sticks. Cover (I use the lid from our stock pot which lays down directly on top of the veggies) and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. This gives the potatoes a chance to cook through a bit. Chop the collards roughly and stir in, along with the remaining shallots (and probably a dab more butter). Cover again and let simmer.
In a separate pan start a bit of butter for the mushrooms. Clean and cube them and then saute in batches, transferring to the larger pan as they cook. This allows the mushrooms the opportunity to sweat a bit and cook with their requisite space.
Once everything is in the pan cook over low heat until the collards are tender, approximately another 15 minutes.