To Go with Meat
Posted on April 7, 2013
When Derek grills a meat—and by grilling I mean hot and fast—I often have to scramble to come up with a vegetable dish to go with it, and Thalia and I end up eating amazing burgers or whatever with sliced tomatoes, maybe some plain crisp lettuce, and pickles; nothing special on the side. This weekend, though, I put a pork shoulder on the smoker at about 10 p.m. Friday night, and I had the whole next morning to leisurely prepare a couple dishes to go with it when I pulled it out at noon or so.
Mashed Roasted Eggplant
Grill or roast 2 medium eggplants and an Anaheim or poblano chile until the eggplants are very soft and the skin is blackened, 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely, then pull off and discard the peels, stems, and pepper seeds. Coarsely chop the eggplant and chile together, then scrape into a bowl and mash them all up. Beat in 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon tahini, and salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of minced fresh mint would be wonderful here too, if you have any.
Quick Braised Collard Greens
Wash a large bunch of collards and cut out the tough center ribs. Stack the leaves, roll them up, and cut the roll crosswise into 1/2-inch strips. In a large, deep sauté pan or a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. When it shimmers, add 2 cloves chopped garlic and 3 or 4 dried chiles de arbol. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is soft and just starting to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Pile in the collards and toss them with tongs for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a big pinch of salt and 1 cup vegetable stock or water, cover, and simmer until the greens are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes or so to cook off some of the liquid. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with a bottle of vinegar on the side (any kind, but I like sherry vinegar on collards for some reason).
I do appreciate long-cooked greens, maybe with a smoked ham hock or pork neckbones for flavor, but alongside smoked pork I want to keep my greens brighter and cleaner tasting. The eggplant mash went especially well with the pork, I think, its cool, tangy creaminess sort of taking the place of the more traditional coleslaw.