As a gardener, this time of year is just plain nice. My autumn garden has barely been put into the ground, so there’s no real stress involved yet. But there are still fruits coming in; you just have to be alert enough to pick them—-a few errant cherry tomatoes, some dried bean pods lingering, and one stubborn yellow squash vine that is convinced it’s still July. The dark horse winner of my garden this year has been collard greens (the variety is “Champion”, so perhaps I should have expected that?).I’ve been eating these collards for awhile now, but they just keep on coming as I harvest them. There are only so many ways to eat greens, you know?With 3+ pounds of greens harvested, more coming in, and no true cold snap in sight, I needed a way to make greens the main event. So I did what all of us 21st-century people do when faced with a dilemma: I googled. This Food & Wine recipe caught my eye. We don’t often see savory cobblers, but it’s a brilliant idea that I want to adapt for other ingredients in the future. The cornmeal biscuits on top are a stroke of genius, giving it a Southern-inspired, rib-sticking feel. I couldn’t help but add buttermilk. It seemed too right. Grace Parisi’s recipe was pretty heavy on the pork products, but I cut it back a lot. I was inclined to leave it out entirely, but when you pass by this place on the way home, it’s exciting to find an excuse to buy Andouille sausage. (I’ve put some veg-friendly suggestions in the recipe, though.) This recipe is liberating for the fact that you cook those collards down into submission. The refrain, “Sauté the greens until just wilted, because they’ll continue to cook after you remove them from the heat,” goes out the window here. These collards get a 30-minute simmering until the smoky, spicy mixture thickens, leaving you with an amazing base upon which to bake the cornmeal biscuits. It’s okay. Leave crisp-tender and al dente behind, just for today. You won’t regret it.
Collard cobbler with cornmeal biscuits
Adapted from Grace Parisi via Food & Wine
For vegetarian friends, you will need to make up for the fat in the sausage if you omit it with a few tablespoons of butter or olive oil. The spiciness from the Andouille should be replaced also, so crumble in a dried chile or two, or add red pepper flakes to taste. I’d also recommend adding in some sort of protein for earthiness, like a mixture of baby bella and porcini mushrooms.
You will need
For the biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the collards:
About 1/2 pound Andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
3-4 pounds collard greens, thick stems removed and sliced into 1-inch ribbons
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the biscuit dough: In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, honey, and butter until the butter is in pieces about the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk and pulse until it forms a mass. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead a few times until the dough completely coheres. Roll the dough out about 3/4 to 1 inch thickness. Slice into square biscuits. Place the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the refrigerator.
Saute the sausage in a big, thick-bottomed pan until fat is rendered. If there doesn’t seem to be much fat, add in a glug of olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and continue to saute, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the stock or broth and bring to a boil. Add the ribboned collards in batches, stirring after each addition. Lower the heat and simmer for approximately thirty minutes, until the mixture is a bit reduced and collards are very tender.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the milk and the cornstarch slurry into the collard mixture, allowing it to simmer a bit more, uncovered, as it thickens up. Taste for salt and pepper and season if necessary.
Pour the entire mixture into an oven-safe glass or ceramic dish (if the pan in which you’ve been cooking can go in the oven, you can leave it in there). Remove the biscuits from the refrigerator, and lay them on top of the mixture, with the corners overlapping if possible. Grind black pepper over the biscuits. Bake the dish in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until biscuits are deep golden brown and collard mixture is bubbly.
Let the cobbler rest for 10-20 minutes before serving it up in warm bowls. This dish goes very nicely with a cold brew.