Grandma’s Swiss Chard Patties

20130516-201114.jpgOh man, you guys are in for a real treat today! I’m sharing with you a family favorite! I made this recipe with my mom when I went to visit her for Mother’s day weekend. I already told you my mom taught me how to cook. She is a PHENOMENAL cook. Her mom, was also a fantastic cook and this recipe is one of her specialties.

20130516-201051.jpgThis recipe is so great because it uses a part of the vegetable (the stems) most people discard, and transforms it into a tasty, savory bite-size cake with great crunchy texture. My grandma was trying to feed 8 people in a tiny Bronx apartment kitchen, so most things she made had to be fast, and that usually meant using the stove top and pan frying a lot. Since she had so many mouths to feed and not a lot of money, my grandma wasted NOTHING. This recipe uses the stems of swiss chard. Usually when cooking swiss chard, most recipes use the leaves and discard the hard, ribby, not so tasty stems. Not my penny-saving grandma. She was not going to throw away anything that was edible, and now, neither will you!

20130516-201103.jpgSome of you might be wondering what swiss chard is. It is a leafy green vegetable, and like other leafy greens, it is highly nutritious. The stems can vary in color, but all generally taste the same. Check out pretty red-stemmed chard! As for vitamins, it is an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C – it has a TON of vitamin K (700% DV in 1 cup!) woah!

20130516-200718.jpg

Swiss Chard leaves – the part of the veggie we will save for another recipe!

My mom still makes these patties today, mostly from memory. There is no exact written recipe, so I’m really glad I got the chance to help my mom make these!!

The other great thing about this recipe is that it is so easy and uses only 5 ingredients. That’s right. FIVE. Swiss Chard, eggs, seasoned bread crumbs, flour, Parmesan cheese (and oil, salt and pepper).

Most of all, this recipe is simple, fast and delicious, not to mention, centered around a vegetable! Grandma totally did Delicious in a Dash. I guess it’s in my blood.

We usually start off using two bunches of swiss chard, mostly because we end up eating a lot of them while we’re cooking. 🙂 You can use any stem color chard. The one I have here in the photo is probably the most common in grocery stores. But you can definitely find rainbow or red chard as well.

First trim the very bottoms off the swiss chard. You want to discard the very end that is probably a little dry, and dirty and split at the bottom. Then de-stem the swiss chard. You can cut off right where the stem starts to get thin in the leaves (see my picture above – you won’t use the thinner part of the stem). You want to use the thick part. There can be some leaves attached to the stems you will use (see pictures below) **Save the leaves and set aside for a later recipe. I like cut up the leaves small and sauté them in some garlic and oil with some salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Ok, back to the stems. If you have very large stems you might need to cut them in half, but we usually don’t, you want them pretty big. Wash the stems and place them in a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes, or until soft (see picture below).

20130516-200735.jpgDrain the stems and now you need to dry the stems. This is my grandma’s patented technique. To do this, set down a dish towel on the counter and place 2 linked paper towels on top. Spread out the drained stems on the paper towel, like so:

20130516-200749.jpgPat dry with an additional paper towel. Sprinkle some all-purpose flour on top of the stems. This is a critical step because it will allow the batter to stick to the stems.

20130516-225939.jpgThen lift up either side of the paper towel and rotate the chard from side to side. This will not coat the stems, just ensure that they are dry.

20130516-200814.jpgMy mom’s got great hands, huh?! What technique!20130516-200825.jpgNext, prep the batter. In a large bowl (or if you’re my mom, you use a very large tupperware container) combine eggs, bread crumb, grated Parmesan and ground black pepper and mix. Then dump the stems into the bowl and stir to coat the stems in this easy, one-step batter.

20130516-200835.jpgNow comes the cooking part. Pour oil in a large pan (we’re using a cast iron skillet), enough oil to coat the bottom on the skillet. You are not deep frying these patties, but you are pan frying them. Warm the oil on medium heat. You want the battered stems to sizzle as soon as you put them in the pan. **You can test the heat of the pan by just putting a small drop of the batter in the oil to see if it sizzles. When it does, the pan is hot enough. Using tongs, pick up a bundle of battered stems, and place in the pan. Pat down slightly so the patty is a single layer. Proceed to do this to fill up your pan.

20130516-200852.jpgWhen the edges start to round and get lightly brown (about 2-3 minutes), the patties are ready to be flipped.

20130516-200907.jpgThe bottoms should be lightly browned when you flip them – see below.

20130516-200930.jpgThe patties will take an additional 2-3 minutes to cook on the other side. Then remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate to cool. You can blot both sides of the patty with a paper towel.

20130516-200956.jpgContinue this process with the remainder of the batch. You may need to add a little more oil while cooking. The patties will get flatter as the oil is used up.

When cool enough to touch, (I usually wait aaabbbout 1 minute) Salt to taste and DEVOUR! Because we leave the stems whole and don’t dice them up like other recipes, the stems are still full, fat and tender and have a meatiness to them. This is in delicious contrast to the crispy batter around the meaty stems. Crispy, savory, delicious swiss chard patties.

20130516-201016.jpgYUM! My mouth is watering right now just trying to describe these to you!

20130516-201030.jpgYou can make these for an appetizer, or a side dish to dinner. I’m not sure these have ever made it to dinner, I think we always eat them while cooking them and as a pre-dinner snack.

20130516-230100.jpgRecipe:

Grandma’s Swiss Chard Patties

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bunches of Swiss Chard (any color stems)
  • Flour (~1/4 cup – just enough for sprinkling the stems)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs (We use 4C brand)
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Vegetable or olive oil to cook patties in (NOT extra virgin olive oil, it will burn)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (we usually sprinkle in a little pepper into the batter, but leave the salt out till the end)

Instructions:

  1. Trim the very bottom of the swiss chard stems and discard. Then cut off the thick part of the stems, could be as large as 5-6 inches (see description above). Set leaves aside for later recipe
  2. Wash stems
  3. Boil stems in water for about 5-10 minutes until stems are soft and flexible
  4. While stems are boiling, prepare the batter. In a large bowl, combine eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, and a generous pinch of pepper, mix well.
  5. Drain stems, and spread them out on dish cloth topped with paper towel (see above). Pat dry with an additional paper towel
  6. Sprinkle flour on top and roll from side to side (see above for technique)
  7. Dump the stems into the batter and stir so all the stems are coated.
  8. Prepare a medium to large cast iron skillet or frying pan by coating the bottom with oil and heating on medium
  9. When pan is hot (a drip of batter will sizzle), use tongs to grab a bundle of swiss chard stems (like 4ish) and place in the oil and press down very lightly
  10. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, edges will be slightly brown, and rounded, and bottom will be lightly browned. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side. When browned, remove from pan and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate. ***If your patties start to brown too quickly before the edges round, you may need to turn down the heat. Heat settings on stoves vary
  11. Salt to taste and ENJOY!

Recipe source: My grandma, via my mom.

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8 thoughts on “Grandma’s Swiss Chard Patties

  1. thanks for sharing this recipe. I have lots of swiss chard in my garden and run out of ideas how to use them. Going to make it today!

  2. Traditional Easter dish for us my mom used to cook from memory, I am now gatheting recipes to give to my children, my mom is starting to forget. Thank you for sharing we make the same way. Happy Easter

  3. OH! DELICIOUS! Had a piece of cheese, olives, crusty Italian bread to go with it and dinner was ready. It will be a weekly meal. LOVE IT.

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