Some milho frito I served up as before dinner nibbles for friends on Saturday night
At last the final Christmas edible is gone from the house and I can recommence a normal eating plan......2013 is the year of the snake, so possibly a year of following a sinuous sidewinding path in our weekly housekeeping perhaps? The Snake is keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise, and ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means your family will not starve.What’s in ? -me thinks , what’s out and what has always been the most intriguing to me, what’s next? In comes Kale this years new green.Kale sits atop the greens heap now. We have been told it´s the new broccoli, "Don’t overlook kale at the supermarket just because you find it easier to cook broccoli" say the fashion police.
Sometimes a substantial breakfast is called for after an early morning fishing trip, on which no fish were caught.Perhaps you just want to recreate what a Portuguese farmer´s wife might serve up after a morning of ploughing across the Alentejo.For me it might be just what I needed post tough jog along the beach, or as a stamina builder to a particularly arduous day of home and garden improvements.I am always looking for new versions of things that I already know.There´s kale aplenty here in Portugal.Some milho frito with a fried egg is what I had in mind.Perhaps my preferred serving though is without the egg as a side to a simple midweek supper of Pinchitos Morunos,an Andalucian speciality of Moorish grilled meat skewers.Milho Frito in its authentic form is simply cornmeal, lard, water and salt.I have embellished this somewhat and teamed it up with Presunto (Portuguese ham) Requeijao ( Portuguese curd cheese) leeks and Kale.
Milho frito25g(1oz) unsalted butter
50g(2oz) finely diced toucinho,pancetta or bacon
2 shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 small leek finely sliced
125g (1/4 pound) kale,savoy cabbage or collard greens,very finely shredded
thick centre stalks and fibrous bits removed
Flor de sal
Freshly ground black pepper
600ml chicken stock
75g unsalted butter
1 cup papa de milho,yellow cormeal or polenta
1/2 cup Requeijao or Ricotta
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
Lightly oil a 20cm x30cm ( 8x12inch) roasting tray and set aside.Bring a medium sized pan of water to the boil.Add the kale and a table spoon of salt and cook until the kale is tender (about 10 mins).Drain in a colander and set aside to cool.
In another large heavy pan heat the butter over a low heat.Add the shallots and leek and sauté stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until they are softened.Add the ham or bacon and garlic and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes until the bacon is becoming crispy.Do not let the garlic burn.Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pot add 600ml of chicken stock,3 tablespoons (75g) unsalted butter,1 teaspoon salt,1/4 teaspoon black pepper and bring to a boil over a medium heat.Slowly pour in the cornmeal in a steady stream,whisking constantly.Reduce the heat to low and stir with a wooden paddle until the mixture thickens to the consistency of smooth mashed potatoes and pulls away from the side of the pan,(about 5 minutes).Stir in the requeijao(Ricotta)mixing it in well.Add the kale and the bacon mixture and again mix it in well to combine.Adjust the seasoning if necessary.Turn the mixture out into the oiled roasting tray and smooth out the top with a moistened spatula.Allow to set covered with a clean kitchen towel.It can be left overnight.Cut the cornmeal into small cubes or rectangles.Line a baking tray with parchment.Lightly brush the cornmeal pieces with oil and bake in hot oven for 30-35minutes turning once.Alternatively cover a large frying pan with a dfilm of oil and heat.When its hot fry the pieces for 2 minutes each side until browned gently on top and bottom.Transfer to aplatter with paper towel and serve immediately.
"You’ll get to be a new and improved you
a lot faster with kale on your menu".-so they say