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Cooking up a storm

December 17, 2012|By Russ Parsons
(Russ Parsons/Los Angeles…)

Now I know where that expression comes from. Was it the rainy, chilly weather? Or was it an overdose of holiday good cheer over the last couple of weeks? Whatever the reason, Sunday seemed the perfect time to settle in for a little winter comfort cooking. Somehow that snowballed.

I went to the store figuring on making some polenta with tomato sauce. But while I was there I spied a big bag of chopped greens. My daughter’s been fighting a cold, and to my mind there is no better cure, so I picked that up as well. And while I was at it, we still had a hambone and some schnibbles left over from our Christmas party, and in my house, hambone = split pea soup.

When I got back home, I started on the greens first because they need to cook the longest (yes, joke all you want about how they really should be called “olive drabs,” they are delicious). I had some leftover barbecued ribs in the fridge, so I made a broth with that, some chopped onion and garlic and then added the greens a handful at a time, letting them collapse before the next addition. Then I set it all aside to simmer for about an hour, until they had been cooked into submission.

For the split pea soup, I sauteed chopped onions and carrots alongside the hambone and trimmings. When they were soft, I added a pound of split peas and 6 cups of water and let it cook until the peas were soft enough that I could thicken the broth with a hard stir.

The polenta was easy, too. I baked it in the oven until it was thick, then beat in butter and grated Parmigiano. I spooned over a quick tomato sauce I’d made with diced pancetta, topped that with more grated Parmigiano and returned it to the oven for 10 minutes or so to brown.

We ate the polenta Sunday night watching the replay of the Laker win over Philadelphia. All was right with the world. And with plenty of greens and split pea soup in the fridge, all ready to go, I think we’re ready for whatever the holiday season and the weather throw at us.


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