Midwest Goes Southern

A few months ago, my boyfriend’s mother came to town for a few days. Between conferences and other work events, she still managed to cook Kirby and I a traditional Southern meal.
We had pork chops, collard greens, and black eyed peas. I’ll have to admit, it was my first time having collard greens and black eyed peas, so I was skeptical. But I guess the saying is true…you can taste it when food is made with love! The meal was absolutely delicious and, paired with great company and a bottle of wine, made for the perfect evening.
The other night, I took a chance and tried to bring a little Midwestern flavor into a Southern classic. I called Kirby’s mom for a little advice, and took my recipe for collard greens from there. The result was a sweet and spicy side, to accompany a BBQ chicken burger.

Midwestern Collard Greens

Servings: 3-4 People

1 large bunch collard greens
1/2 bottle beer (I suggest an IPA or stout)
2 Tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup white bean, canned, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup red grapes, cut into large slices
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste


Rinse collard green leaves and set over paper towels to dry. Chop into large pieces, ~3 pieces per large leaf, discarded the large and tough stems on the lower part of the leaves. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt liberally. Add collard greens and return to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove collard greens from pot, and drain; set aside.

Return the same pot (now empty and dry) to the stove; add olive oil. Heat over medium-high, and add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until onions are translucent and garlic is golden, but not browned.  Add  beer and stir to deglaze. When all liquid has evaporated, add collard greens back to the pot. Stir and add grapes, beans, and herbs. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm.


BBQ Chicken Burgers

Servings: 2 People

3/4 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup white onion, diced
1/2 cup yellow pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbs dry BBQ seasoning (I use the BBQ seasoning from Trader Joe’s. Contains onion and garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, etc.)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs high quality BBQ sauce
1 slice pepper jack cheese (optional)
2 slices whole wheat bread (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste


Heat oil over medium-high in a medium skillet. Add onion, pepper, garlic, jalapenos, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables and place on a large plate. Place in freezer for 5 minutes, or until cooled.

Place ground chicken in a mixing bowl. Add BBQ seasoning, cooled vegetables, 1 tsp each salt and pepper; mix thoroughly by hand. Form into 2 round patties. Spray large grill pan, or saute pan, with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium; add patties and cover. Cook approximately 5 minutes, flip and cover. Cook an additional 5 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Spread each patty with 1/2 Tbs BBQ sauce and serve.

Optional: If you want to go low carb, the meal can end here.  Otherwise, feel free to melt one slice of pepper jack cheese on top of the patty. Place between two slices of toasted bread and add the condiments of your choice (e.g., lettuce, tomato, onion, BBQ sauce, etc.)

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