Slow Cooker

Slow-Cooked Tuscan Kale with Pancetta, Bread Crumbs, and a Poached Egg

January 22, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 10 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Serves 2
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • The Kale
  • 1 pound Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed (about 8oz | 250g once trimmed)
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced into small cubes (note: use an additional tablespoon of olive oil if you omit the pancetta)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 chile de árbol (optional, a pinch of red pepper flakes works nicely, too)
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onions
  • 2 garlic cloved, minced
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (recipe follows)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 splash Vinegar
  • 1 pinch Freshly cracked black pepper
  • The Bread Crumbs
  • 2 cups bread cubes, torn from a fresh or day-old loaf of bread
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  1. The Kale
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  1. The Bread Crumbs
  2. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • tessga
  • Danielle
  • Kelly-Jo Medze
    Kelly-Jo Medze
  • Selma | Selma's Table
    Selma | Selma's Table
  • Silly Apron
    Silly Apron
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.

39 Reviews

Station11 September 8, 2019
I’ve made this 2 nights in a row, both Times topping w soy marinated eggs rather than poached eggs- first time I over salted, tonight it was perfect! So much flavor!!!

Note, takes about an hour of prep/cooking time, rather than the 10 hours listed...
Mary C. December 28, 2018
Years ago Kale was nothing more than decoration on a Smorgasbord because it was considered inedible and something humans should not consume. I just can't bring myself to even try the stuff. Can spinach be used in it's place for this recipe?
jdaysy October 13, 2018
this sounds very much like my jam, but why does it say 10 hours prep? just a typo or am I missing something in the read-through? can't wait to try it!
Katlyn G. October 18, 2018
Came here to ask this!
Heather March 2, 2018
4 years ago I bravely gathered ingredients and attempted my best rendition of this recipe. I wasn't much of a cook back then, and today I credit THIS recipe for the beginning of a cooking journey born out of realizing multi-steps with beautiful ingredients that play off each other is like being part of a symphony. I haven't stopped cooking since, and I really do credit this recipe, because it really is so rewarding when all the parts come together this deliciously. Everybody's singing their individual, yet harmonized flavors here. I'm so thankful you shared this marvelous song.
shira January 16, 2018
Wow, absolutely delicious. I made with just the greens in the fridge, a combo of broccoli rabe, mustard, and curly kale. with pepper flakes, no pancetta. It was like a dark greens confit.
JM H. November 19, 2017
Delicious! Thank you for the clear directions on how to poach an egg. I've cooked for decades but never tried to poach before, it seemed so complicated. I served it over risotto that I made as the kale cooked down.
Sarah March 31, 2017
Made with breadcrumb from a rosemary raisin loaf, paired with a lambrusco. Was absolutely amazing.
tessga January 14, 2017
made without the chili or flakes, but this was really delicious.
Alexandra S. January 15, 2017
So happy to hear this.
bas26 August 5, 2016
This is a keeper! I had one crumbled Italian sausage that I used instead of pancetta and it was delicious. I didn't have time for the breadcrumbs but will definitely try it the next time and maybe add some sautéed mushrooms. Has anyone tried to freeze this?
Alexandra S. August 6, 2016
Great to hear this! Love the sound of sausage and mushrooms. Haven't tried freezing this yet.
Danielle March 18, 2015
I don't know what took me so long to try this recipe, but oh my goodness! I made a bit more of a calorie-conscious version, reducing the oil (2 tbsp with the onion and 1 tbsp with the kale) and tossing in 1/4 cup plain panko at the end to toast up in the existing pan oils, instead of the homemade breadcrumbs. Since I never made the full-fat version, I'll never know what I'm missing since this version was still outrageously good. I have a feeling I'll be making this one pretty often for a while!
Alexandra S. August 6, 2016
So happy to hear this, Danielle! I'll have to try your version. Thanks!
pLUT0 October 26, 2014
my Cavolo Nero can stay in the garden almost all winter, I live in the Netherlands. I have made pesto from as well, very nice taste!
Alexandra S. October 26, 2014
Ahhh, good to know. Love the idea of cavolo nero pesto!
pLUT0 October 23, 2014
excellent, made it as an starter with cavolo nero from my own garden, really fantastic recipe!!
Alexandra S. October 26, 2014
So happy to hear this! And thanks for the reminder to get out to my garden — the kale is totally overgrowing at the moment, and I need to bring it in before the weather turns for good.
Kelly-Jo M. March 13, 2014
Made this last week, everyone loved it, thanks! having it again tonight...
Alexandra S. October 26, 2014
So happy to hear this, Kelly-Jo!
Selma |. March 1, 2014
Congratulations! Love the sound of this and I can't wait to try it!
Alexandra S. March 2, 2014
Thanks, Divasparkle!
Silly A. February 26, 2014
Congratulations! Doesn't it feel great to have your food photographed by James Ransom? And of course to win the contest :)
Alexandra S. March 2, 2014
Haha, thanks and yes! I mean, how is every picture he takes so gorgeous?
Teri February 25, 2014
Congratulations Ali! You rock!
Alexandra S. February 25, 2014
Thanks, Teri!
tina February 21, 2014
I have a pound of curly kale, I wonder if it would be as tasty as the Tuscan?
Alexandra S. February 25, 2014
So sorry to be seeing this just now! I have made this with curly kale, and it works, but to me it's not as good. Did you end up trying?
tina February 25, 2014
Not yet but I will let you know when I do. We prefer curly in kale salad with lemon vinaigrette so I always have it on hand. I like Tuscan too though so I will report back soon!
tina February 27, 2014
I did it with curly and it was delicious!
Double H. February 20, 2014
Made this today. It's a beautiful dish. The flavors are great but I think it's a bit greasy for my taste. The 5 tablespoons of oil on top of the fat from the pancetta and the creaminess of the poached egg was a bit much for me. I think next time I would cut down on the added oil. It is a yummy dish though!
Alexandra S. February 20, 2014
I could see that. If you try it again with less oil, I'll be curious to hear how it turns out. At one point I tried cutting back the oil but just felt something was lost in the finished dish. Know that it is delicious without the pancetta, too, and it's really nice over toast, too, which might cut the grease. Glad you liked it even so!
Blork February 19, 2014
I made this tonight and it was excellent. I didn't have much kale, so I also sautéed some cremini mushrooms (after the pancetta, before the kale) and set it aside and added it back at the end. A nice addition!

This would go nice over creamy polenta, but I wasn't up to making that. But I did have some leftover mashed potatoes. So I warmed up a bit of half&half and infused it with a crushed garlic clove and a bay leaf. I stirred that into the potatoes (after discarding the garlic and bay) and warmed it up in the microwave. When it was hot I stirred in a pile of finely grated parmesan cheese.

It all worked together really nicely! A keeper for sure!
Alexandra S. February 20, 2014
Wonderful to hear this! I love the idea of adding mushrooms, and yes re creamy polenta! Mashed potatoes sound yummy, too.
bexwithanx6 February 18, 2014
I just made this for dinner... it is unbelievably delicious! The fresh breadcrumbs make it even better
Alexandra S. February 18, 2014
So happy to hear this. And I know, I love those crispy crumbs, too!