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pork and rutabagas

Kate Williams

Nana's braised rutabagas with pork


4 slow-cooked, flavor-packed ways to braise fruits and vegetables

When anyone mentions braising, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely some sort of meat or, more specifically, the American classic: pot roast. But braising really just means to cook with a relatively small amount of liquid, so even though it is most often thought of as a meat-heavy cooking technique, braising can mean so much more.

You can braise almost any and everything, including the fruits and vegetables that are most likely readily available in your home. Braising will help you to not only preserve the nutrients already present in your food, but also infuse your dishes with an insane amount of flavor.  

Braising your vegetables is a totally acceptable way to cook them. This set-it-and-forget-it process means less time in the kitchen for you and also produces some of the most flavorful and tender vegetable dishes you'll every have. 
Sweet and Spicy Collard Greens
Collard greens were made to be braised. These incredibly hearty greens are traditionally cooked in a savory broth with onions, garlic and smoked meat (ham hocks or turkey necks). This take on the classic is a little spicier than normal so if you're a fan of more mild flavors, feel free to omit the hot sauce and peppers. Apple cider vinegar adds a fair amount of brightness to the overall flavor, which results in a recipe you can confidently reach for whenever you want to make this Southern staple. 
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Braised Beet Salad
Beets are normally roasted, but if you ever have them braised you may never cook them that way again. For this recipe balsamic vinegar, honey and a little bit of salt help to transform the humble beet into something truly extraordinary. The original recipe pairs these beets with watermelon but feel free to include (or substitute) them in dishes such as salt-roasted beet salad with goat cheese moussefall harvest salad with Dijon vinaigrette; or spinach and blue cheese salad with apples, pecans and beets.
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Nana's Rutabagas with Pork
I know, there is meat in this dish, but the real star here is the rutabagas. Firm and crunchy while raw, rutabagas are the unsung heroes of root vegetables. They take a while to cook to tender, sweet perfection, which makes them an excellent choice for braising. If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, omit the pork and braise the rutabagas in a rich vegetable stock. 
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I know what you're thinking — braising fruit? What the heck?! But yes — braise you can. Braising fruit helps to draw out the natural sugars often present and turn fruits into something that most resembles a decadent caramel. If you haven't braised pears, apples or persimmons, your life is about the change for the better. Apples
Apples are glorious. They work with almost anything and are easily accessible. This recipe comes straight from the kitchen queen herself, Martha Stewart. Ms. Stewart's rich braised apple dish calls for shallots, chicken stock, saffron and a dry sherry. This savory dish would be perfect on any holiday table as a side dish. Get ready to be asked to make this a lot. 
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Photo (collards): Ramona King
Photo (beets): Nick Collins/Unsplash
Photo (rutabagas): Kate Wiliams
Photo (apples): Joanna Nix/Unsplash

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Ryan Shepard is the editor-in-chief at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously.