November 2010

Chef Christopher’s Braised Rainbow Swiss Chard

6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 bunch rainbow Swiss Chard (about 1/2 pound), cleaned, with stems cut away from leaves
2 leeks
1 cup verjus* or white grape juice
2 cups    vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. In small saucepan, simmer garlic in 1 cup of olive oil until soft. Drain oil from garlic, reserving oil.
  2. Clean leeks: Cut white part of leeks into coins about 1/4 inch thick and float them in a bowl of cold water. Agitate to help sand fall to the bottom. When clean, remove leeks, drain and pat dry.
  3. Cut Swiss chard stems into uniformly sized pieces: squares or sticks.
  4. Place remaining olive oil in heavy-bottomed pot. Add leeks and cook on low heat until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste.
  5. Add the cooked garlic and about 1 tablespoon of garlic oil.  When garlic becomes aromatic, add verjus and simmer until liquid is reduced to half of its original.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, tie the thyme and bay leaf together with some kitchen twine and add to stock. Return to a simmer.   Adjust seasoning.
  7. In the meantime, bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add stems and cook for two minutes, then remove them from the water and add to the leek mixture. Simmer for two minutes.
  8. Add greens to boiling water; remove after 15 seconds, drain and add to leek mixture. Adjust seasonings, remove herb bundle and serve.

VARIATION: Braised Rainbow Swiss Chard with Bacon: Cut 2 ounces of bacon or pancetta into postage-stamp sizes. Cook over medium heat until almost crisp. Add to cooked leeks at the end of step 5.

*Verjus is the bottled juice of unripe grapes.