This past weekend, I put together a menu incorporating two Ingredients of the Week: malanga and collard greens. They seemed like perfect partners to one of my favorite winter meals, roasted chicken. But the southern overtones of the malanga (of South American descent) and collard greens (North American south) prompted something different than my usual roasted chicken recipe.
I looked into South American spices and was intrigued by aji, a yellow chili powder common in Peruvian cuisine. Unfortunately, my search for aji was fruitless and I decided to go a more traditional route with chipotle.
Certain ingredients are shared across the menu. The bacon is used twice, providing the grease in which the greens are cooked, and then chopped up into the malanga. Lime juice contributes to the spice paste for the chicken and as a last minute spritzing on the greens.
As far as playing with unfamiliar ingredients goes, the collard greens were excellent. They were easy to work with and flavorful. In fact, when I use them again, I might leave them raw and use them in a salad, or wilt them with pasta.
The malanga, on the other hand, was trouble. I found one malanga recipe on Epicurious. It said to peel and chop the malanga, then boil it. The skin was so tough that I couldn't tell if my vegetable peeler was peeling the malanga, or vice versa. So I decided to boil the malanga in one piece, hoping that would soften the skin. It worked, but it had to be cooled, then peeled, then boiled again to ensure it was thoroughly cooked. The flavor was interesting, sort of nutty, but I don't think it was worth the trouble. It needed a heavy dose of dairy and chopped bacon to properly pair the dish with the rest of the meal. Even if there is an easier way to work with it, I don't know if I'll bother. Any suggestions? Should I give it another try?
Spicy Roasted Chicken
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbls. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
salt and pepper
3-4 lb. roasted chicken
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Combine garlic, oil, lime juice, and seasonings into a paste. Rinse inside and outside of chicken with cold water; pat dry. Rub outer skin and beneath the skin with the spice paste.
Cook chicken in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and turn chicken around, breast side up. Cook for another 20 minutes. Reduce heat again to 375, rotate chicken a final time and cook for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. Chicken is ready when a nick in the thigh produces clear juices. After removing from oven, let rest for about 10 minutes.
3 slabs bacon
1 bunch of collard greens
generous spritz of lime juice (left over from spicy roasted chicken)
salt and pepper
Fry bacon. Chop greens. Remove bacon, leaving grease in pan. Saute greens in bacon grease till just tender and wilted, 3 - 4 minutes. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper.
2 lbs. Malanga
Approx. 1 c. buttermilk
3 slabs of cooked bacon (from collard greens), cooled and chopped into bits
salt and pepper
Boil malanga whole for approx. 15 minutes. Let cool. Peel and chop into rounds. Bring water to a boil again and add malanga, simmering till tender. Mash with buttermilk, adding milk in small batches till desired consistency is reached. Mix in bacon, salt and pepper.
Note: I had intended to include photos of the finished product, but I had hungry people waiting (including me!). I'll be more patient next time...