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RBR Tailgate: Spicy Pineapple Collards

The most creative side dish you’ll see this season. I’m not taking credit for it, even though I should be praised for bringing it to your attention.

This week’s recipe carries with it a tincture of heresy.

In Alabama we know our collards. There’s not a cook south of Huntsville that doesn’t have an opinion on the proper way to braise greens. The real argument comes when deciding which cut of pork best infuses flavor. Bacon has its adherents. Ham hocks are probably the choice of the largest contingent. Pork belly isn’t out of the ordinary. I’ve seen recipes where people try to get fancy with guanciale, pancetta, or other spiced bits of pig. Minor arguments aside, what almost everybody is in complete agreement about is that collards require pork.

Enter Chef Daniel Briggs, heretic.

He doesn’t use pork at all.

In a Bible Belt state where Meat & Three restaurants can claim weekly attendance that reduce the average pastor to a whimpering ball of covetousness, there’s not a lot of impetus to go against the tried and true. Fortunes, or at least comfortable livings in the suburbs, have been made by following a formulaic menu. Niki’s West may have been named as one of the top places to eat in America by USA Today, but they follow more or less the same game plan as any number of similar downtown establishments. We have a lot of good to choose from.

Chef Briggs’ semi-eponymous restaurant - danielgeorge - is a fine dining hot spot in Mountain Brook Village. In the evenings, they serve the best of the gulf coast and beyond with on par meats and carefully considered vegetables and sauces.

When they opened for lunch it was with a twist on the traditional Meat & Three menu. It’s all fresh. It’s all made from scratch. He took a fine dining mindset and applied it to popular southern lunch habits.

This is probably a good place to mention as a disclaimer that I draw a paycheck from danielgeorge, but hopefully I’ve engendered enough trust among our readers by this point that it’s understood that I feature dishes I like, no matter where or why I encounter them. Let me have it if you think otherwise.

So much of what he’s serving is worth a write-up, but the collards… my lord, the collards.

I spoke with Chef Briggs and several of his back of house cooks. They told me enough about how they need to be made in bulk for me to figure out a passable scaled version for the tailgater.

Spicy Pineapple Collard Greens

- 1lb collard greens

- 2 cups pineapple, diced

- 1 12 oz. can pineapple juice, as needed

- 1 habanero pepper, minced, seeds and all

- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced

- ½ cup yellow onion, minced

- soy sauce to taste

- apple cider vinegar to taste

All of these measurements are pretty rough. I eyeballed and tasted and tasted again, but this dish is hard to screw up. If you like more tomatoes or less onion or whatever, do as you please.

The restaurant recipe calls for sambol, an Asian pepper sauce. I couldn’t find it at any of my local grocery stores, but the most popular pepper in this particular sauce is habanero followed by cayenne. If you can find sambol, great. If not, minced habanero - seeds included - will do the trick. I had cayenne on hand but didn’t need it. If you feel like you’re missing the vinegar pinch from sambol, lean on the apple cider vinegar.

Add a few glugs of olive oil to a wide pan and at medium heat, saute the onions until translucent.

Next add the diced pineapple, habanero, and cherry tomatoes. When the tomatoes show a little orange add the collards.

Toss until wilted and then add apple cider vinegar and soy, about three tablespoons each. Instead of salting to taste, add soy as needed.

This should really impress. I’ve done a horrid job of somehow tying this to Arkansas as that’s who we’re playing, but it’d go well with “Arkansas Style” fried catfish.

We should have this game well in hand. That said, enjoy, no injuries, and Roll Tide.

Burger Update:

I was amazed at the response to the Burgers of Rage incident. I’m obsessively dedicated to the unlikely idea that as a web community (or at least me and a few of you) we will set a new standard for hamburgers, both grilled and pan cooked - and yes they are different.

A lot of people recommended non beef additions to ground blends. I can’t make a solid case as to why, but I want the final product to be exclusively cow. Deer and pork no doubt add complexity, but I want to wring the most out of the base. Let’s perfect the simple.

I should note that some of you do incredible things to meat (TWSS).

Ted3’s Jalapeno, bacon, and cheese stuffed burgers deserve a mention.

I couldn’t help but make CrimsonHayate’s flavored butter topping for a burger. One of my favorite snacks is spaghetti with butter, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, and black pepper. I substituted his marrow butter for plain old and it was Nirvana.

Back to burgers, I’ve found a very good working blend with chuck and spareribs. A friend just gave me a trimmings and filet patty. Sirloin and oxtail are still out there.

I’m loving the tests.