Braised Kale with Bacon and Onions


Today I was going to make my brother a second birthday cake, which of course is a little absurd.  He was going to have one for his friends and one for his family, the first being a boxed mix and the second an actual cake.  Then I realized how silly it is to make a second cake when there are only five of us, and that would mean we could each eat at least three pieces of cake.  So instead, I decided to make something healthier today, like I made this kale last night for dinner.

Another reason making a second cake would be worthless is that my mother really couldn’t eat it.  She is on a new diet where she eats 9 cups of fruits and vegetables a day (hence the kale) and cake isn’t exactly recommended.  The idea behind the diet is that by eating 3 cups of colorful vegetables/fruits and berries, 3 cups of sulfur rich vegetables (onions, cabbage, leeks, ect.) and 3 cups of vitamin B rich vegetables she will successfully nourish her mitochondria in her cells, thus helping to repair the myelin that covers the neurons in her brain, and helping her to reverse the effects of Multiple Sclerosis.  Because of this, I now have A LOT of fruits and vegetables at home, and am constantly looking for good ways to cook them.  Another part of the diet is also trying to get organ meat into one’s diet once a week along with seaweed.  The seaweed we can do, but the liver, sweetbreads, ect., I’m just a little hesitant about.

So this kale recipe is adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe from a few years ago dealing with cooking hearty greens.  I nearly used turkey bacon (we almost never eat real bacon) but then decided that because only my mom and I would actually be eating it (my dad who doesn’t eat red meat was having something else), going for real bacon would be perfectly fine. I halved the recipe that was in the magazine to put here, because well, I don’t think many people are inclined to eat 2 pounds of kale (approximately 23 cups raw). Also, I didn’t use red onion for this recipe, and though it would make the finished product a little prettier, I don’t think it’s necessary.  The onion I did use, I doubled to a full onion.  Finally, though I halved the recipe, I didn’t halve the amount of garlic, I actually increased it, because, well, I love garlic.

Braised Kale with Bacon and Onions
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated January/February 2009
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound kale, after washed, stems and some of ribs removed, and chopped
1 onion, red or white, chopped
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
3 or 4 pieces of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
A couple tablespoons cider vinegar

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a large dutch oven or saucepan, until pieces are crispy and the fat is rendered.  Then, using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels so that it can be added back in at the end. The original recipe calls for removing all but a tablespoons of fat after removing the bacon, but for me that seemed about the amount created to begin with, so I skipped that step.

Sauté onion in fat on medium heat until translucent.  Then add minced garlic and cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper.  Continue to sauté until you can smell the garlic cooking.  Then add in half of the kale and allow the kale to cook for a minute until it wilts and you can add in the rest of the kale.  After adding the second batch of kale, immediately add the broth and water, and cover the pan, turning heat to medium low.  Cook the kale for between 25 and 35 minutes, covered.  After this, remove the cover to the dutch oven or saucepan and cook the kale on medium high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, or until basically all of the liquid has evaporated.

Then, add the few teaspoons of cider vinegar and the bacon, and serve nice and hot.

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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!