Collard Rolls with Boudin and Meyer Lemon Beurre Blanc
Collaboration is a beautiful thing. Bringing together different skills to a shared goal is rich and fulfilling. Families should endeavor to do this as much as possible. Marriages within this framework are gratifying and life-affirming. So it is with the menu this week.
Harris’s garden continues to produce: Meyer lemons, collard greens, broccoli, and green onion tops. His new greenhouse is alive with thriving vegetables, flowers, tiny trees, ferns, and seedlings. We’ve dined on perfectly ripened tomatoes, and I harvested a handful of bâton-rouge red Tabasco peppers, dried and crushed them.
Last week Harris had a brainstorm: how about filling the collard leaves with boudin? That sounded great; we had the requisite components, and I hadn’t narrowed down my recipes for the post. I asked, “What kind of sauce do you think would be good?” His answer: “Something with lemon.” The collaboration began, and the inspired result makes a unique and delicious entrée.
There’s an old joke about a South Louisiana seven-course meal: a six-pack of beer and a yard of boudin. Generally speaking, boudin is a snack food. Eaten on the go, it’s hard to resist diving into the fragrant, steamy treat, hot from your favorite boudin purveyor. Probably 90 percent of the boudin sold in this state is consumed while driving. Boudin for supper would be amazing and different. And a twist on cabbage rolls would be fun to try.
The collards are a perfect choice for wrapping the pork and rice sausage. Cabbage would be too strong. A sweet, tomato-based sauce wouldn’t do at all. Eliminating the baking stage would make a super quick and easy meal. The Meyer lemon beurre blanc would tie all the elements together. So we thought, and right we are. We both flipped for the combo and will make it a staple recipe in our repertoire.
They say that people in Acadiana have two distinct methods for procuring their boudin and their boiled crawfish: the boudin must be around the corner, and the crawfish has to entail a road trip. That was partially the case in our house … until a fateful trip to LSU one memorable and happy Sunday. We traveled a ways for both boudin and boiled crawfish, but the travel time increased for the boudin.
Harris was returning the girl child to school, and the packed parking lot at their usual boudin stop in Krotz Springs sent them across the street to a place we’d passed by a hundred times: Kartchner’s Grocery and Specialty Meats. Shame on us! That first purchase of boudin and cracklins led to a ritual snacking stop to and from LSU. We purchased boudin-stuffed chickens, deer sausage, duck-and-jalapeño sausage, housemade bacon and so much more — all of it superb. And now that our girl has graduated, it’s a good 20 minutes from the house: good being the operative word. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss this gem. Just watch your speedometer. The limit is 45 and getting caught going over will cost you a bundle for your delicious boudin.
Don’t despair if boudin doesn’t exist in your area. It’s very simple to make. The hardest part is stuffing the casings, and that’s unnecessary for this dish. I’ve paired the collard rolls with smashed butternut squash. Or you could serve mashed potatoes.
For the music, I’ve chosen a playlist that is sparkling and contemplative by turns. It features Grace Kelly on sax — oh yeah, go check it out — and a tune by Terrance Simien that’s included on a new CD of Cajun and Creole lullabies. Talk about a collaboration! The Lafayette General Medical Center and Louisiana Folk Roots teamed up and created music to welcome newborns to the world. It’s called, “Je m’endors,” and it’s lovely. If you know a new parent, it makes a terrific gift. Another great tune is by Bonsoir Catin from their newly Grammy-nominated CD. So from our house in the woods to your abode: we hope your holiday season is off to a merry beginning, and that you enjoy our newest recipe collaboration!
- 1 1/2 lbs. pork shoulder or Boston butt cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 lb. pork liver use other or additional organ meats
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 medium green pepper chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- Cajun/Creole seasoning or a combination of salt, pepper and cayenne
- 2 cups cooked rice preferably short or medium grain (For paleo version, omit rice.)
- 4 green onions chopped
- 12 large collard leaves tough stems removed, but leaving leaves whole
- 2 1/2 lbs. boudin removed from casings if using prepared boudin
- 2 Meyer lemons or regular lemons, juiced
- 1/4 cup shallots sliced
- 2 sticks unsalted butter chilled and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- salt, white pepper, cayenne to taste
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In an oven-proof pot, place pork, liver, onion, green pepper, celery, garlic and seasonings. Add cool water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Stir, cover and place in oven. Cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender.
Being sure to reserve the meat-cooking liquid, remove the meat and vegetables, draining well, onto a sheet pan and allow to cool.
In batches, chop meat and vegetable mixture well and add to a large mixing bowl. Add cooked rice and green onions. Mix thoroughly. By small amounts, add reserved cooking liquid and mix, until the boudin holds together when you scoop up a handful and squeeze it gently. Chill in refrigerator 30 minutes or until ready to assemble collard rolls.
Fill a large bowl with ice, water and a tablespoon of salt. Fill a large sauce pot three fourths full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and collard leaves one at a time so they remain flat. Lower heat to brisk simmer and cook collards for 5 minutes. Remove collards to ice water, stirring gently. When cool, carefully remove leaves and drain.
In a large pot outfitted with a steamer tray, put 1-inch of water. Shape boudin into 3-inch logs (or remove boudin from casings and cut into 3-inch segments. Starting at the stem end of a collard leaf, place boudin perpendicular to the leaf stem and roll up once, pull sides of leaf to the middle, overlapping the ends. Continue to roll until neat, tight package is created. Repeat with remaining collard leaves and boudin.
Fill steamer liner or basket with collard rolls and place inside pot. Bring water to a boil making sure water does not touch the bottom of the collard rolls. Steam until heated through, 10-12 minutes. Check temperature of filling by inserting the tip of a sharp paring knife into one of the rolls and touching the tip to your lip. When it is hot enough, turn off burner and remove rolls carefully. The filling will be soft, so using a large slotted spoon or a spatula is better than tongs.
Add lemon juice and shallots to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce to about a tablespoon, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots draining well. Return reduced lemon juice to the pan.
This sauce is about technique. In order to keep it from "breaking" or losing its creamy look and consistency, the sauce cannot get too warm. Add a tablespoon of butter and without a spoon, swirl the butter in the reduced lemon juice. Above the low heat of the burner, continue swirling the pan, lowering it to gain additional heat and removing it once the butter starts to melt. Do not place pan directly on the burner. Continue add the butter by the single tablespoons, swirling and lowering. After one stick of butter has been added, season with salt, white pepper and cayenne to taste. Taste for acidity level. This is very personal. Continue to add butter by the spoonful until the flavor is bright with lemon flavor, but not too tart for your taste. Remove pan to a back, unlit burner until the collard rolls are ready to serve. Don't worry if the beurre blanc becomes thickened and starts to congeal. The heat of the collard rolls will return it to sauce consistency. Note: If the sauce does break, don't fret about it. Tell your diners you are serving a broken beurre blanc. The flavor will still be delicious.
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled (be sure to peel down past the layer with the green strings) and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter plus additional for serving
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt, pepper, cayenne to taste or use your favorite seasoning blend
- 2 green onion tops sliced
Place squash, butter and heavy cream in sauce pan over medium heat. When butter is melted, lower heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Do not allow to brown.
Mash the squash, leaving it as chunky as you like or until it is smooth. Season to taste, sprinkle with green onions and and a generous pat of butter.