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Author Notes: Before discovering Suzanne Goin's slow-cooked Tuscan kale, I thought I knew nearly every possible way to prepare dark leafy greens: sautéed quickly with garlic and red pepper flakes; raw, sliced thinly, and massaged with dressing; and boiled four ways à la Zuni Cafe. But Goin's recipe, which calls for blanching the kale first, then cooking it slowly with sautéed onions for 30 minutes, was unlike any method I had ever tried. The kale essentially cooks until it turns black and is crispy at the edges, and it has become one of my favorite things to eat.
The only trouble with the recipe is that it never makes enough -- I can eat a pound of this kale in one sitting. But when it's beefed up with toasted bread crumbs and crispy pancetta, and when it's topped with a poached egg or served over creamy polenta, it starts becoming a meal. Slow-cooked kale is a nice addition to so many dishes from pastas to grain salads to pizza, but it seems to pair particularly well with eggs -- it is delicious tucked into an omelet with feta cheese.
Notes: This is my favorite way to prepare/use slow-cooked Tuscan kale, but know the recipe can be adapted to your liking. You can omit the pancetta and use an additional tablespoon of olive oil. You can use crushed red pepper flakes in place of the chile. You can top it with a fried or soft-boiled egg. I've learned not to skimp on the olive oil and to not rush the kale-cooking process — the key is to not stop cooking until the kale is black. —Alexandra Stafford
Food52 Review: WHO: Alexandracooks is a Virginia-based graphic designer.
WHAT: Super tasty slow-cooked kale that’s a perfect side dish for dinner -- or topped with poached eggs for breakfast.
HOW: Patience is key to slow-cooking the kale. Don’t be afraid of the dark, crispy edges that appear after a half hour or so -- they're what makes it so good.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We tried this without the pancetta and it was still indulgent and super tasty. We made it in the afternoon; the next morning, we re-heated it and topped it with a poached egg for a perfect, healthy breakfast. —goop
pound Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed (about 8oz | 250g once trimmed)
2 to 3
ounces pancetta, diced into small cubes (note: use an additional tablespoon of olive oil if you omit the pancetta)
tablespoons olive oil, divided
chile de árbol (optional, a pinch of red pepper flakes works nicely, too)
cup sliced yellow onions
garlic cloved, minced
cup toasted bread crumbs (recipe follows)
Freshly cracked black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Working in 2 batches, (or just 1 if you are using a large enough pot), blanch kale for 2 minutes. Drain, let cool, and squeeze out excess water with your hands. Coarsely chop; set aside.
- Meanwhile, place the pancetta in a large sauté pan over low heat and cook covered for 15 minutes. Remove cover and cook for about five minutes more or until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan with the pancetta fat and place over medium heat. Add the rosemary sprig and chile (if using), and let sizzle, shaking pan every so often, for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onion. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue cooking, stirring every so often until onion is soft and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard rosemary and chile.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and kale; stir to coat. Season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes, until kale turns almost black and is slightly crisp at edges, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a small shallow saucepan to a simmer. Crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin. Sprinkle a couple teaspoons vinegar into the pot of water. When the kale has cooked for about 25 minutes, adjust the heat of the pot of water so that the water is barely simmering -- get the water to a simmer, then turn it down so you don't see any bubbles or movement. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a whirlpool in the water, then drop one egg into the center of the whirlpool. Repeat with other egg. Adjust the heat to keep the water just below a simmer. Set the timer for 3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, lift one egg up from the water and shake it. The yolk should jiggle a little bit, but shouldn't look too loose. You might have to cook the eggs for one minute longer. When the eggs look cooked to your liking, remove each one with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- When the kale has finished cooking, stir in the bread crumbs and the reserved pancetta. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Divide the kale mixture between two bowls. Top with egg. Season with pinch of salt and pepper.
The Bread Crumbs
cups bread cubes, torn from a fresh or day-old loaf of bread
tablespoons olive oil
pinches Kosher salt
- Place bread in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are coarse. Toast crumbs in about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, for about five minutes or until crumbs are crunchy and golden brown Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Season with pinch of kosher salt and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Your Best Dark, Leafy Greens Contest Winner!