Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Swamp Cabbage Recipe

I was talking to a co-worker at lunchtime and by the end of it all, I was positively drooling. First he shared his recipe for Lo Mein, which is basically cooked wheat pasta with stir-fried chicken breast and assorted vegetables in sesame oil with appropriate seasonings. Then he talked about Jamaican Jerk Pork.

Since he was so into cooking, I shared an old "Cracker" recipe.

Crackers are true, deep-south Florida natives. They're pretty rare these days, as most of them have died out and those of us who are natives in this area usually have parents who were northerners or were influenced by yankees as we were growing up. An old-fashioned Cracker talks with a deep drawl and usually grew up with no air conditioning in the middle of scrub palmettos, rattlesnakes, and pine trees.

Years ago, my ex-husband worked with an old Cracker. He shared a recipe with us that we absolutely love. It's something his mother and her mother before her used to make. They used "Swamp Cabbage" (which is the heart of the palmetto tree) but now we use regular cabbage.

Take a pound of smoked bacon, and chop it up. Fry it until it's crispy, draining the fat regularly into a mug or bowl. Make sure you wipe the side of the pan whenever you drain it, as the fat will drip on the burner and smoke.

Remove the cooked bacon and drain it on paper towels. Pour enough bacon grease back into the frying pan to cover it. Take at least half a head of cabbage, chopped, and put it into the frying pan along with generous amounts of salt and pepper. Keep stirring it until the cabbage has been reduced and is translucent. Add more cabbage, grease and seasonings as desired.

When all the cabbage is cooked down, stir the bacon back into the mix and serve with baking powder drop biscuits on the side.

Voila! Heart attack on a plate ... and it's sinfully good.

Needless to say, we eat this only once a year.


daveawayfromhome said...

Mmmm. Sounds yummy!

The Lazy Iguana said...

I would stick with palm hearts. They are really good.

By the way, real "swamp cabbage" is not from the palmetto trees. Trees are tall. Although the heart of a Royal Palm is really good - you do not find them very often.

All the ones I have had were harvested from trees downed by storms. In the case of the Royals, it was trees that could not be saved.

I believe real "swamp cabbage" comes from the palmetto bushes.

You have to put a fair amount of work into harvesting the brush. It is not really easy work.

Dr. Deb said...

Oh, wow, that sounds good.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lazy Iguana,
Honey do your research on this:
Copied from "Wikipeidia"

"Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, burglar's thigh, chonta or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees (notably the coconut (Cocos nucifera), Palmito Juçara (Euterpe edulis), Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), sabal (Sabal spp.) and pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes) palms). It is costly because harvesting in the wild kills the tree. Heart of palm is often eaten in a salad, sometimes called "millionaire's salad".

An alternative to wild heart of palm are palm varieties which have undergone a process of adaptation to become a domesticated farm species. The main variety that has been domesticated is the botanical species Bactris gasipaes, known in Ecuador as "chontaduro", in Costa Rica as "pejibaye", and in English as the "peach palm".

Peach palms are self-suckering and produce multiple stems,[1] up to 40 on one plant, so harvesting several stems from a plant is not so expensive because the plant can live on. Another advantage it has over other palms is that it has been selectively bred to eliminate the vicious thorns of its wild cousins. Since harvesting is still a labor intensive task, palm hearts are regarded as a delicacy.

As of 2008, Costa Rica is the primary source of fresh palm hearts in the US. Peach palm is also cultivated in Hawaii,[1] and now has limited distribution on the mainland, primarily to the restaurant trade.

Brazil was the highest producer of uncultivated hearts of palm, but in the 1990s its quality went down - mostly because of unsustainable poaching for stems (called colete, Portuguese for "vest") of the main producing species, Euterpe edulis - which is now considered as threatened with extinction in the wild.[2] This left the market open for Ecuador to export its cultivated hearts of palm. Ecuador is now one of the main producers of hearts of palm. France is the largest importer of hearts of palm.[citation needed]"

Yes they are trees and in some areas they are grown specifically for harvesting the heart of the tree....