Monday, August 27, 2012

chard & onion panade

This is sort of like savory bread pudding, and I'm confused about why the original recipe made the directions sound very very complicated, when it's really like "cook stuff and layer it in a pot and bake it for a long time."

8 medium thinly sliced yellow onions
Up to 1/2 cup mild-tasting olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 pounds Swiss chard (thick ribs removed), cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
10 ounces day-old chewy peasant-style bread cut into rough 1-inch cubes
Up to 4 cups chicken stock
6 ounces cheddar, coarsely grated [the recipe calls for Gruyère]

1. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat some oil and lightly brown the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Stew, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a pale amber color and tender but not mushy, another 20 minutes or so. If at any point the onions look as if they may dry out, cover them to trap some of the moisture in the pan. Taste for salt.

2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (or as low as 250 degrees, if it suits your schedule to stretch the cooking time from about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes; the slower the bake, the more unctuous and mellow the results).

3. Wilt the chard, with a little oil and whatever water is clinging to the leaves, for about 5 minutes.

4. Drizzle the bread with a little oil, a generous 1/4 cup of the stock and a few pinches of salt, to taste.

5. Choose a flameproof, 3-quart souffle dish or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. [I used the same cast-iron pot I used for the onions and chard. Pick something bigger than you need so you don't need to worry about it overflowing.] Assemble the panade in layers: onions, chard, bread, cheese. Aim for 2 to 3 layers of each component, then make sure the top layer displays a little of everything. Irregularity in the layers makes the final product more interesting and lovely. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil.

6. Pour 2-4 cups of the chicken stock around the edges of the dish. For a more pudding-like dish, use more stock. [I used about three cups of stock, until it rose around the edges of the pot, and it was a very pleasant mushy texture, like French onion soup made more solid.]

7. Set panade over low heat and bring to a simmer, for about 30 minutes, until everything is a relatively even temperature and the stock is bubbling around the sides.

8. Cover with foil and bake until the panade is piping hot and bubbly. This usually takes about 1 1/2 hours.

9. Uncover panade, raise temperature to 375 degrees, and leave until golden brown on top, 10 to 20 minutes

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