Monday, June 13, 2011

Collards with Nit'ir Qibe

Two days before my big Ethiopian birthday dinner, I met my good friend Alyna in the city for some wine shopping. I had my menu planned, my spice mixes made, and I felt like I was in good shape for Saturday night. I was used to having six or seven friends over for dinner, and I thought having sixteen for dinner would be a similar experience. I even had two crockpots lined up to keep food warm while the other dishes simmered way.

Boy was I wrong.

Alyna throws beautiful dinner parties several times a year, and she started in with questions. How would I keep drinks cold? Did I have enough serving dishes? Enough serving spoons? How would I keep dishes warm?

I started to feel like I was in a bit over my head.

I got home that night, made truffles, and googled "throwing a dinner party." I got Deb Perelman's advice (from Smitten Kitchen) a little too late. She suggested ordering what you can (perhaps ordering injera instead of making it from scratch would have been helpful), planning dishes you can whip together quickly (does the red onion, tomato and mint salad count?), and having only one piece de resistance.

Oh well.

I'll take her advice into account next time I plan a meal. I do think these collards with nit'ir qibe would have satisfied Deb's list of entertaining criteria. Once chopped (which can be done well in advance), they only require occasionally stirring for about 30 minutes before they're done.

See the collards tucked in the back of the plate, about 11 o'clock? As our cooking progressed and we got more overwhelmed, we stopped photographing. This is the only picture of the collards that survived. 

Collards with Nit'ir Qibe
recipe from Myra Kornfeld

This recipe yields about 8 servings of collards. The tender braise ensures that they are mellow and delicious.

2 tablespoons nit'ir qibe (Ethiopian clarified butter)
1 medium onion, small dice (1 cup)
2 garlic cloves (mixed)
1/4 teasoon ground cardamom
1 pound collards, stems removed, chopped small
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

Prepare the collards: Wash the leaves thoroughly. Cut the stems out from the middle of the collards. Stack several leaves on top of one another, roll them up, and cut them into 1/2 inch strips. I put all my collards into a salad spinner, soaked them in water for a few minutes, and spun them dry. It really helped to remove all the dirt.

Cook the collards: Warm the nit'ir qibe in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and cardamom, and saute the mixture about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Add the collards, water and salt, and cover the pot.

Cook for about 25 minutes, until the collards are very tender. Remove the lid and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with black pepper, and serve hot.

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