Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dixie Collard Greens & Swiss Steak with Onions and Mushrooms from ATK

So we've now cooked two more meals from the Slow Cooker Revolution cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. I made their recipe for Dixie Collard Greens to go along with a dinner of BBQ chicken and mashed potatoes and also made the Swiss Steak with Onions and Mushrooms which we also had with mashed potatoes (and carrots). I didn't get pictures of the Swiss Steak dish and honestly they wouldn't have been very pretty...the meat cooked until it fell apart so it ended up more like a stew than steaks, but was delicious anyway! First for the greens.

Let me start by saying I've never had luck cooking greens. For some reason they always either taste bland, don't cook well or are over cooked.  This recipe, however, turned out wonderful greens, and even though I could probably have let them go another hour or two since they were still a bit "al dente" as compared to most I've had, they were very tasty and didn't suffer from undercooking a bit.  I took a shortcut in buying pre-cut greens and decided to use a smoked turkey leg instead of the ham hock in the recipe just because I hate cleaning hocks and prefer the leaner turkey leg. I also used more red pepper flakes than called for just because we like a little more heat than the average joe. My biggest surprise with this recipe was the fact that my almost-3-yr-old actually ate them! She doesn't usually like anything leafy green, but she ate these for two meals (the recipe makes a BIG batch) and liked them! The recipe states it serves 6, but I would say unless you're eating a whole bowl of them (like a soup bowl!) it serves at least 8, probably more like 10-12... Ok, onto the recipe and a few photos...

Dixie Collard Greens

Serving Size  : 6

1 onion -- minced
6 garlic cloves -- minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 pounds collard greens -- stemmed & leaves cut into 1" pieces
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 smoked turkey leg
2 tablespoons cider vinegar -- plus extra as needed
hot sauce -- for garnish

Microwave onion, garlic, oil and red pepper until softened, about 5 min., then transfer to slow cooker. Stir in greens, broth, water and 1 tsp salt. Nestle turkey leg on top. Cover and cook until tender, 9-11 hrs on low or 5-7 on high. Transfer turkey leg to cutting board and cook until able to handle. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and discard skin and bones. Add meat and vinegar to greens. Season with salt, pepper, additional vinegar and hot sauce to taste. Can be held on warm setting for 1-2 hrs before serving.

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Pre-cook - This is my largest slow cooker (6 qt) and as you can see, 2 lbs of greens FILLS it up completely...




Clamped the lid down to keep it on...




After cooking - This was after 8 hours. Probably could have gone another 1-2.
And now for dish #2... Swiss Steak with Onions and Mushrooms... We love Swiss steak  but most of the time, my version of Swiss steak is more like cube steak with mushroom gravy. This Swiss steak was actually a cut of steak called blade steak. It's also known as a flat-iron steak in this part of the country. 

Now, this is another recipe with a lot of prep work, similar to the beef stroganoff recipe I mentioned in my previous post. However, this one was good enough, I'd definitely do it again and call it worth it :) My almost-3-yr-old daughter even helped me with this one as she stood on a chair at the cutting board with a disposable plastic knife and cut up the mushrooms for me. The recipe calls for them to be "cut thin" but mine were probably 1/4" thick on average and with the long cooking time I think they did fine. They did take a little longer for the "soften" and "brown" part of the prep, but nothing too terrible. My onions, on the other hand, took less time than in the directions, perhaps because I was using an enameled cast iron pan for browning and it didn't cool down in between the mushrooms and onions or perhaps because I cut them thinner than ATK, but either way, I was keeping an eye on them so it didn't really matter.  My only quarrel with the directions during prep was the one for "smoothing out any lumps"...um, there are onions in there, so there are going to be lumps! But I think the idea was to make sure the flour wasn't in lumps, and that wasn't a problem...

I cooked the dish on low for about 8 hours and as I mentioned, the steaks basically fell apart. I did check them at 7 hrs and they were still in one piece and not yet tender, so if you really want your steaks in whole pieces, you may want to keep a close eye on them in between those times. Personally I didn't mind the "stew" version since we were serving it over potatoes anyway. I was a little short on heavy cream so I put in a big spoonful of sour cream which I usually use in my non-crock pot Swiss steaks. I think it helped make it a more smooth gravy. Also, since the steaks had disintegrated into small pieces, I didn't bother removing them before adding the cream/sour cream since that would have been hard to do.  Overall this was a very successful albeit not pretty dish that we'll definitely try again. Now onto the recipe:

Swiss Steak with Onions and Mushrooms

Serving Size  : 6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds button mushrooms -- trimmed and sliced thin
salt and pepper
2 onions -- halved & sliced thin
1 tablespoon fresh thyme -- or 1 tsp dried
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 beef blade steaks -- (6-8 oz each) 3/4-1" thick
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and 1/4 tsp salt, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until mushrooms are dry and browned, 5-10 minutes longer, then transfer to slow cooker. Heat remaining oil until shimmering. Add onions, thyme and paprika. Cook until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for another minute. Slowly whisk in broth and sherry, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker. Season steaks with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 9-11 hrs or on high for 5-7 hrs or until beef is tender. Transfer steaks to a serving platter and tent loosely with foil. Let liquid settle for 5 minutes then skim to remove excess fat. Stir in cream and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon 1 cup sauce over steaks and serve with remaining sauce.

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