6.3.10 Beef Eaters

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photos by george billard
Pork is not in circulation at our house right now (part of an elimination diet we're trying), and although there are plenty of other things to eat, bacon is pretty hard to replace. So I was intrigued when I spotted beef bacon at Dickson's the other week. Turns out it has a nice smoky flavor and, though not fatty enough to become truly crispy, it's got a meaty chew that is rather pleasant. Because eating meats raises the level of acidity in the body, it's good to accompany them with plenty of alkalinizing fresh and cooked vegetables. One of my favorite ways to cook greens is with a piece of smoky meat, whether it's pork, beef, poultry or even dried bonito. It's an easy way to adds a lot of flavor.
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This is not so much a recipe as it is a guide, because you can use this technique for any quantity of any kind of greens: mustard, spinach, kale, collards, chard, dandelion...even in combination, although I don't tend to do that so much.Wash your greens and shake them dry, then tear or slice them into chunks or strips, removing any very large ribs. Heat a large skillet, one that has a lid. (If you don't own such a thing, consider investing in something like this because you will use it all the time for braising and sauteeing.) Now fry up a couple of pieces of bacon until crisp and remove them from the pan, setting aside. (Do not eat them right now!) Leave the fat in the pan and toss in a couple of smashed garlic cloves, maybe a minced shallot, a pinch of red pepper flakes, some sea salt and anything else that grabs you (fennel seeds or turmeric or grated ginger) and stir for a couple of minutes. Add your greens to the pan and, using a pair of large tongs (another indispensable kitchen tool, like these), stir them a bit to coat them with the fat. Then, turn the heat down and put the lid on the pan. You don't need any other liquid! The greens will exude enough of their own, then melt down into a shockingly small pile. (Which is why you need to buy a whole bunch of greens for two people; and a bunch apiece if it's spinach!) Check them after 5 minutes or so, you don't want them to get overcooked. If they seem to be sticking, stir them and you can always toss in 1/4 cup (or less) of water, stock, wine, even vinegar.Try working more greens into your meal, but especially when you are eating meat. They are a great side with absolutely everything, and they make a lovely light lunch. I have taken to pureeing them with some stock and cream and making soup, to eat hot or cold. As Shirley Temple sang, You gotta eat your spinach, baby!