Ragin’ Cajun with La Caja China
Part Two: Side Dishes
~Chef Perry Perkins~
In Rajun’ Cajun Part 1, we looked at the awesomeness that is Cochon de Lait, now let’s try our hand at a couple of traditional side dishes that will absolutely make your Rajun’ Cajun party!
With a sharp knife, cut the skins 1” squares.
In a large pot, boil the skins, just covered with water for about a half an hour, covered.
Toss out the water, drop the heat to medium low, and return the pot to the stove, sprinkling with a little fine sea salt, to render the remaining fat. Cook the square in their own simmering fat (how beautiful a sentence is that?) until lightly browned and starting to puff up and crisp.
Lay several layers of paper towels down, and use a slotted spoon to remove the cracklins from their own fat, and dump them on the paper towels. Let the few for 10 minutes and serve with hot sauce, salsa, or straight up!
Easy Southern Greens
4 slices thick bacon
1-2 lbs greens (collard, kale, chard, or a mix)
1 tsp. black pepper
4 cups water
5 tsp. Better than Bullion Ham Base
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes for an extra zing.
1/2 cup chopped white onions
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Mise en Place
Rinse greens thoroughly, remove tough ribs and stems, and chop leaves. Cut stems into 1 inch pieces. Combine water and ham base to make ham broth. Chop onions. Slice bacon.
Prepare the Dish
Cook the bacon in a skillet until the fat renders and bacon becomes translucent. (Do not drain!)
Transfer bacon and dripping to a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and cook until softened.
Add greens, stems, pepper flakes (optional), pepper, and ham broth.
Simmer over medium heat for 45-60 minutes.
Serve greens drained (or not) with minced onion, vin
egar and Tabasco, if desired. You can also add a splash of red wine vinegar of hot sauce (or both!)
PS – Half of the awesomeness of southern-style greens is the potlikker.
Potlikker is the amazingly flavorful broth of the ham stock and cooked down greens. You definitely want some crusty bread or (preferably) a good savory cornbread to mop it up.
Only a “damnyankee” would throw out the potlikker!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com