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Swiss Chard is commonly found here in Ecuador’s highlands-almost as common as cacao in the lowlands. But you don’t find it in a lot of dishes. It’s usually served here in soup “Sopa de Acelga,” with pieces of chard floating in the broth. Not my favorite way to eat it, and I didn’t have a whole lot of options to prepare it-usually sauteed with some anchovies and garlic, maybe some julienned strips of red pepper tossed in, cooked until tender. Or cooked down into a sort of ragu, then served over pasta with breadcrumbs and parmesan on top.
It was at my in-laws house that the maid was preparing it in a totally new way. An unusual way. She called the “Emborrajados.” The closes thing I can find for this word is some kind of fritter. And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a very basic recipe, but one of the most delicious ways I have found to prepare chard.
First, quickly blanch it in salted water for 3-4 mins (at sea level, probably less-use your culinary judgement) until it’s soft but not falling apart. You’re going to be frying it in a later step so it will continue to cook there.
Make a quick fritter batter with about two eggs, a cup of flour, and salt and pepper. A dash of nutmeg doesn’t hurt. Chop the chard into 1/2″ strips or so, pretty finely chopped. Make sure it’s dry and mix it in with the batter. It should look like this:
Then, with two soup spoons, make a quenelle like shape, and don’t worry if it doesn’t hold tightly together. The batter should be wet but not so stiff that you can’t get it to mix in with the chard. But is should be dry enough that you can basically form a loosely packed quenelle that will hold together when you drop it in the hot oil.
Fry it up and eat with a squeeze of lemon before serving!