November 5, 2010

A Polk Recipe from Flippin, Arkansas

My friend Gwen VanAsselt is today's guest to discuss the culinary delights from Arkansas. Gwen's polk shoots recipe is from her grandmother who grew up eating this in Flippin, Arkansas, and brought the recipe with her to Missouri when she moved to Missouri's Lake Ozark in her 30's.

You, like me, may be wondering about polk shoots (also called poke or pokeweed). Here's a good link for more info.

Gwen says: "One of the wonderful things about my grandma is that she doesn't beat around the bush and isn't afraid to speak her mind. She came to stay with us for a week after the birth of our first child. After the first day of my recipes (lots of lentils and tofu) she told me I didn't have the right ingredients to make anything. She couldn't believe that I didn't have a can of bacon grease on my stove. She said, 'all good recipes start with a little bacon grease.'
"At some point during her trip she noticed that we had polk growing in our landscaping.  (We are not the best at yard maintenance.)  She picked a full pot of it out of our landscaped beds and served it to us that night for dinner.
"I called her to get the recipe. 

"In Arkansas you know that poke is up when the Oak trees put out leaves.  It is best in the spring when it is tender.  It grew later in Michigan because the climate is cooler.  It will grow into fall and make berries.  Never eat the berries. They are almost poison.

Polk recipe:
1.  Pick a full pot of polk because it will shrink.
2.  Wash it three times to get the dirt and sand off.
3.  Put it back in the large pot with some water and cook it until it is tender.
4.  Lift the polk out of the water and put it in a frying pan with a few tablespoons of bacon grease. Add salt and pepper.
5.  Go by taste and make sure it is tender.

She reminded me several times not to eat the berries in the fall and never to eat polk raw because it will cause diarrhea.
Enjoy the recipe!
Thanks for sharing, Gwen. I think I'll wait to try this until your grandmother can peruse our landscaping. (See below for a previous year's "garden" that kind of took over. I'm sure there was something edible here!)

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