Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to do with callalou?

The other day at the farmers market, I picked up a Caribbean green known as callalou. Feeling inexperienced in the ways of all things Jamaican, I spent several days just sort of thinking about the possibilities, and finally decided to do with it what I might do with any other fairly sturdy green: I made a soup with various trash pantry items that I knew would suit it well. 
It's a little bit of an intimidating green, seen in a semi-organized pile of bunches at Kimball Fruit Farm's stand. I really didn't know what it was, except having seen Andrew Zimmern wax poetic about the vegetable and the dish so named for the vegetable about a year ago on Bizarre Foods. But the time had come after leaving it in the fridge for a few days to dive right in. So I took it out, and removed the woody stems as instructed by various recipes on the interweb. It's kind of a pretty green... looks like a weed. I like weeds, they mean it's summer. 
Next, in a large stew pot, I threw in some sliced chouriço, which for those who don't know, is pretty plentiful in Southern New England, and is basically Portugal's (especially the Azores') answer to chorizo. It's spicy, and fragrant with garlic, spices, and the pork sausage is a deep red color. A little splash of oil to help it along, and I sauteed the chouriço until the oil in the pan ran a nice deep red. Having grown up in Fall River, and sharing a love chouriço only matched by Emeril Lagasse (also from Fall River), my blood basically runs red with this delicious sausage. I fall down dead if I don't have any in the freezer. You get the idea. 
Time to throw in the callalou. There was a ton of it, and it filled the entire pot. Not to worry, the greens wilt quite a bit, just as much as you might expect an equal amount of kale to wilt. Stirring a couple times to get the flavor of the oil into the greens, I then proceeded to add about six cups of chicken broth, which my loving husband had made a few days ago from the remains of what had been an incredible roast chicken from Jen and Pete's Backyard Birds. 
Twenty minutes later, the greens were pretty darn wilted, and I'd taken another archaeological dig through my pantry. We had a can of whole stewed tomatoes, nothing too special there, but I thought it might match well with the chouriço, and squeezed the little buggers into the soup. What else? How about a single can of garbanzo beans. Sure, I like more protein, so I gave those a good rinse and threw them in there. Alright, almost there, but needs something else... what's in the fridge. Ooooh! Three golden zucchini that I had thought I might save for the grill, but they would be a pretty good compliment to this growing heartier by the minute soup. So I sliced those into thick rounds, and they too went into the pot. Two minutes later, and our last addition from "leftover/not sure what to do with it land," I found chicken that had been shredded from the roast chicken carcass and added them to the soup to warm up a bit. 
Of course, throughout I had tasted the liquid, adding cumin, all spice, pepper, salt, garlic powder, Johnny's Seasoning Salt, paprika, and a bit of chili flake for heat. Spicing and tasting throughout the cooking process is part of the joy of creating, says I.
This was a delicious hearty soup, and will provide delicious sustenance for the next few days.

And it all started with the question of what to do with callalou. 

1 bunch callalou
1 chouriço sausage
6 cups chicken stock
3 zucchini
1 can garbanzo beans
1 cup shredded chicken (if you have it, that's the name of the game)
Spices: salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic salt, Johnny's, chili flake, all spice

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