As much as I am reluctant to have to start putting on my jacket when I leave the house, and I miss the summer skies, it's that time of the year for comfort food and football Sundays. So, in honor of crock-pot cooking, I figured I'd try something new.
This ain't yo' mamma's chili! It's something a little different for those days when you don't want to really cook, but want something savory to warm you up from the inside out. The best part - you can freeze the leftovers in ziploc bags for an easy 'Emergency Eats' dinner a few weeks later, where all you have to do is thaw it and eat!
That's right! Chef Jeff and I are switching hats (and aprons) - just for this month - and I'll be dishing out something easy, while he's going to satisfy your hunger with an autumn-flavored feast.
Ingredients for Beer-Blasted Ham & Beans:
2 ham steaks, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 15.5 oz can small white beans
1 15.5 oz can black beans
1 onion chopped
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp quality bbq sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 16 oz. package bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bottle of dark beer (you don't want anything sweet!)*
Ingredients for Collard Greens:
1 bunch fresh collard greens
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Instructions for the Beer-Blasted Ham & Beans:
1. This is so freaking easy - just take all of the ingredients and throw them into your crock-pot. Turn the heat up to high and cook for 6 - 8 hours, until the bacon is done. Voila! Dinner is served! (The bacon will be floppy, but that's ok!)
Instructions for the Collard Greens:
1. Ten minutes before you serve dinner, start on the collard greens.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and melt the butter in it. Add the olive oil.
3. Meanwhile, rinse your collard greens and tear the leaves off going down both sides of the stems. (The stems are hard and chewy. You don't need them or want them. Discard them.)
4. Take the leaves you just tore off the stems, and tear them again into bite-size pieces.
5. Place the collard greens in your sauté pan and stir them around to coat them in the butter and oil. Cover the pan with the lid.
6. By covering the pan you will cause the collard greens to cook down, wither, and soften up.
7. In about 5 minutes, lift the lid and stir the greens around. Cover it again.
8. In another 5 minutes the collard greens should be done. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
*If you don't want to use beer, you can substitute about a 1/2 cup of water instead. The idea here is that the beer will change its flavor as it cooks. I'm not a big beer drinker myself, but when I cook with beer I can really appreciate its influences on food. Please don't substitute a sweet or pale ale here. I tried it that way, and it doesn't work with the flavor profile, in my opinion. A dark beer is definitely the way to go.
Collard greens make a great accompaniment with this dish. It offsets the smoky flavors of the bacon and barbecue sauce in the ham and beans. I know there are a million ways to prepare collard greens, including cooking them in bacon fat, lard, or even adding bacon to them. In this case, I consider it overkill because of the pairing with the main dish.