Red chard with pickled stems
I probably have this all wrong, but I don’t care. This was one of my culinary triumphs.
The challenge with chard comes from the fact that the leaves are wonderfully tender and cook in a minute or two while the stem is tougher, more earthy and requires longer cooking. Keep them attached, don’t expect a decent result.
In a fancy restaurant recently I ate the best chard I have had. I found out the chef’s secret was removing and pickling the stems and adding them back to the cooked leaves. Brilliant, I thought.
I rushed to the market, bought some chard, promptly removed the stems and… well, how the heck do you pickle a chard stem?
With dinner fast approaching (and clearly no time for sterilizing jars and all that jazz), I thought on my feet and the result I share with you here.
Perhaps I am wrong to use the word “pickle” in the recipe. But I am claiming it nonetheless. It’s as good as the restaurant’s version…
… well, almost.
- A bunch of red chard
- Cider vinegar (because it is what I had in my pantry)
- Brown sugar
- Small saucepan
- Big saucepan (or large frying pan)
- Remove the stalks from the chard.
- Slice them into finely (little half-moon strips across the grain, so to speak).
- Heat about ⅓ cup of vinegar with double the amount of water and a several heaped teaspoons of sugar (more if you like it sweeter).
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the chard stems.
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for five to ten minutes and remove from the heat. (I left the stems sitting in the liquor while it cooled.)
- Make sure the chard leaves are clean and dry. Cut them into strips, maybe an inch wide.
- Heat a big knob of butter in the pan and, when it is bubbling, add the leaves. Stir till they are all coated with butter.
- Add a little salt, cover and let them wilt for about a minute or two.
- Strain the stems and add them to the leaves along with maybe a tablespoon of the pickling liquor.
- Taste, season, serve (and add another knob of butter if you are feeling decadent).
What you should know
This recipe is open to experiment and suggestion. Comments required!