Collards with tiny spicy crispy potatoes

collards

We’ll begin today, friends, with a reading from the liner notes of my new (brilliant) Jimmy Smith album, Home Cooking.

On the front of this album, there is a brilliant color photograph of Jimmy Smith by Blue Note’s talented lensman, Frank Wolff. Jimmy is standing in front of what is, to many musicians, the “soul station” in the neighborhood of Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.

Kate’s Home Cooking is located on 126th Street, not far from the Apollo’s backstage entrance. Performers such as Ruth Brown, Cozy Cole, Count Basie, Fats Domino, James Moody, Art Blakey and Horace Silver make it their prandial headquarters during the course of a week when they are playing the big A. Jimmy Smith is an ardent admirer of “Home-soul” cooking, especially the brand dispensed by Kate O. Bishop. Home Cookin‘ is a dedication to Kate. This “all blues” date musically approximates the feeling her cuisine imparts. The distance from grits, greens and gravy to swing, sounds and soul is a short one for Jimmy Smith.

This salute, Home Cookin‘, in recognition of a certain brand of culinary art that has not perished (thanks to Kate Bishop), finds Jimmy Smith and his colleagues demonstrating that the blues, if utilized when just ripe and seasoned correctly, will never lose any of their flavor either.

I love that! The whole idea. Food, music, soul. Yeah. Well, after reading this, I went out and bought some collard greens. I love greens of any variety, I really do! I know I’m not remotely from the South, so this isn’t exactly my home cooking, but I love it all the same. The idea of it and the taste of it. I’ve given some thought to what my home cooking might be. Savory pies, I guess, with greens and beans in them?

These collard greens are sort of a fusion of two different quintessential collard recipes. One is Ye’abesha gomen, an Ethiopian dish with garlic and ginger, and the other is one more typical of the American south, with chiles and bacon. Obviously, I don’t eat bacon, but I roasted some potatoes that had been chopped into small cubes, and then I tossed them with my spice mix, which has the smokey, savory flavor I associate with bacon or sausage.

I usually like my greens bright and cooked just as much as necessary, but for some reason, I wanted these collards to be meltingly soft, so I cooked them for quite a long time. The crispy potatoes on top formed a nice contrast of texture. I added a dash of vinegar at the end, to bring out the hot savory flavors, and that’s about all I have to say about that!

Here’s Jimmy Smith with Messin’ Around from Home Cookin’

1 big bunch of collard greens, rinsed, big inedible stems removed, roughly chopped
1 tomato roughly chopped, or 1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 T olive oil
1 shallot – finely diced
2 cloves garlic – minced
1/2 inch cube of ginger, grated or minced
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
salt & plenty of pepper
2 T butter
1 T balsamic (or to taste)

Put the collards in a big pot of boiling salted water, and boil them for about 20 minutes, till they’re quite soft. Drain and rinse with cold water (reserve some of the cooking liquid to add to the frying pan later). Then chop into pieces about 1 inch square.

Meanwhile…

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, then the garlic, ginger and hot pepper flakes. When things are starting to brown, add the cooked collards and the tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes, till all the flavors are well combined, the tomatoes are soft, and everything is hot through. Add ladles-full of collared cooking liquid as you need, to keep the pan quite wet.

Add the butter and balsamic, mix well, season with salt and plenty of pepper, and serve.

THE POTATOES

5 or so medium sized potatoes, washed and cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 t smoked paprika
1 t rosemary
1/2 t. sage
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t. fennel seeds, crushed
pinch allspice, nutmeg and cayenne
plenty of black pepper

3 or so T olive oil.

Spread the potatoes on a baking sheet and pour the oil over. With your hands or a spatula, mix well, so they’re all coated with oil.

Roast in a 425 degree oven for about half an hour, till they’re brown and crispy, turning them occasionally to get all the sides nicely browned.

Sprinkle the spice mix over, and mix well with the potatoes. Put them under the broiler for a minute or two to get extra crispy, then sprinkle them over the collards.

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6 thoughts on “Collards with tiny spicy crispy potatoes

  1. Perfect! I love greens, we grow collards, and that’s my favorite way of cooking potatoes, except I cut mine larger, 1″+. I’m not sure why but most of our American friends have never tried them this way, it’s very traditional in UK. Plus how can you go wrong by adding Jimmy Smith. Great photo, it looks so tempting.

    • Thanks, Tony! I love greens, too. I usually roast my potatoes about an inch or more square, but sometimes I like them small and very crispy. Nice to toss on top of things for texture.

      Jimmy Smith is amazing!

      Thanks for always being so encouraging!

  2. Have you come across callalloo yet? It’s a Jamaican spinach like plant, very popular there and I see it mentioned hereabouts occasionally, I think you’d like it. If you can, get some seeds, it grows like a weed, we grew it some years back but we let it die out.

    • TOny, I’ve never eaten it, but I’ve certainly heard it mentioned in songs. I’m sure I should be able to find it somewhere around here. If not, I’ll order some seeds from online for the spring. Sounds like something I would love!

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