I've tried cooking it in various ways, but it always ends up tasting bitter. What am I doing wrong? I'm using fairly young chard (homegrown), using the whole leaves.
Your chard most likely tastes bitter because chard is bitter. You can't really change that with cooking technique alone, but you can:
- Use older chard, which tends to be markedly less bitter than the young chard you're using;
- Avoid bringing out the bitterness, by cooking at lower heat;
- Mute any remaining bitterness with salt, which is pretty common for leafy greens.
My favourite chard technique is to start by sauteeing chopped onion in olive oil until it is starting to brown, then adding chard with the rinsing water clinging to it, and putting the lid on. I then turn off the heat. The combination of lower heat and the sweetness of onion and olive oil means that the result is only slightly bitter, just how I like it.
I blanch chard in boiling and aggressively salted water. Then reheat in a hot pan, little butter, some shallot, splash of white wine to finish. Season well, enjoy.
Another technique is to sweeten the chard; for example, you might add a little sugar and some raisins. This is a classic French technique for Swiss chard. Here's a recipe:
- 1 bunch Swiss chard
- 3 TBS unsalted butter
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS sugar
- 1 TBS chopped, fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup (2 oz) dark or golden raisins, roughly chopped
- 2 TBS pine nuts (optional, but best)
- Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
- Remove the stems from the chard, and slice it roughly.
- In a large saute pan over high heat, melt the butter and oil until it sizzles. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar begins to brown, about one minute. Add the chard and rosemary; stir well to coat the chard with the butter mixture. Continuing to stir, cook until the chard wilts to about half of its volume, about a minute and a half. Add the raisins and stir to distribute evenly. Add the pine nuts, if using, and continue to cook over high heat to evaporate any moisture.
- Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a warmed serving plate, and serve immediately.
Cooking bitter greens like chard and kale long and slow in animal fats, as in stews or soups, tends to get rid of the bitterness.