With summer finally upon us, this is a great light meal to coax out of your wood oven.
1 lb of your favorite shrimp, peeled and deveined (try Laughing Bird shrimp if you can get your hands on some – sustainably raised in Costa Rica, these beauties are sweet, succulent and delicious – and already cleaned and ready to go!)
5 green onions or scallions
2 serrano chiles, or habaneros if you like it hot
4 cloves garlic
1 piece fresh ginger the size of your thumb tip, peeled
7 allspice berries
10 black peppercorns
1 T fresh thyme
juice of 3 limes
1 C + 2 T vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 lb collard greens
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
Roughly chop the green onions and chiles, removing the seeds and ribs of the peppers if you desire a less-spicy finished product. Place the green onions, chiles, 2 cloves of garlic, ginger, allspice, peppercorns, thyme and lime juice in the carafe of a blender. Season with salt. Turn on the blender and slowly pour in the 1 cup of vegetable oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Your jerk spice marinade will keep just fine in the refrigerator for a few days.
About 2 hours before you’re ready to cook shrimp, douse them in the marinade. Mix to coat on all sides. Set aside in the refrigerator.
While the shrimp are marinating, cook your collards. You are going to want a low- to medium-hot wood oven for this. Remove all the stems from the collards and discard. Roughly chop the leaves. Preheat a high-sided roasting pan or pot as big as your oven can hold. Mince the remaining 2 garlic cloves. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan, then add the sliced onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sweat, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Add the collards to the pot. If your pot isn’t big enough to hold all the greens, work in batches: Add as much as the pot can hold and allow them to cook down for 2 minutes. The greens will quickly wilt and then you should be able to fit in the rest.
Add the vinegar to the greens, season with salt and pepper, and cover loosely with foil. Allow the greens to slowly cook, stirring occasionally, until dark green and tender. Depending on how hardy your collards are, this could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. If the pot starts getting too dry and the greens are sticking to the bottom, add a little bit of water. Once the greens are done, remove from the oven and set aside.
To cook your shrimp, stoke up the oven and then preheat a large skillet. Drain any excess marinade off the shrimp. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and then add the shrimp. You will probably need to work in batches; the shrimp should be in a single layer and not too crowded in the pan. If you’re using smaller shrimp such as Laughing Bird, they will cook very quickly, approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute. Shake the pan once or twice and you’re done. For large shrimp, cook on one side until the flesh has turned opaque two-thirds of the way up the side. Turn over and cook on the other side until done.
Serve the shrimp on a bed of warm collards. Now, this is delicious just as it is. But if you have some leftover pickled peppers from making trout with crispy rice cakes, and you throw those on top, and if you’ve got some grits laying around, or maybe some leftover white rice from ordering Thai the night before, and you serve that alongside, you’ve got yourself quite a meal. Just sayin’.