Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kale and Bean Ragout

Last night I decided to use the Lacinato Kale. I hadn’t ever used this type of kale so I did a little research before I started. I checked Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison for some ideas on how to cook the kale (and a bit of inspiration)

Here’s the ingredients

1 bunch kale, chopped
4 slices bread
2-4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup or so marsala wine
1 can white beans
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (a last minute addition so they're not in the photo)
leftover pork roast
lemon juice*

I started by blanching the kale in a pot of salted water. It took about 4 minutes until it was tender (much less than my reading said it should).

Meanwhile, I sliced my bread into cubes while I warmed up about a half inch of oil in a pan (I added a couple cloves of
garlic to the oil to season it). Once the oil was hot I removed the garlic and added the bread in a single layer. After a few seconds I started tossing the bread with a slotted spoon so that it would brown on all sides. Once brown I removed the bread to a plate lined with paper towels and salted them immediately. A few of them got a little more crispy (read, burned) then I would prefer so I tossed them out, but my husband called the remaining croutons the best he’s had.

Now on to the main part of the dish. I started by cooking my bacon in a large skillet. One it was nice and crispy I took it out of the pan (leaving a bit of the fat) and then tossed in the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and some salt. When the onions were translucent I added a couple of glugs of Marsala wine and my leftover pork roast. Now, obviously not everyone has pork roast just laying around and this could easily be substituted with some cooked chicken or it would make a lovely vegetarian meal (without the bacon of course). I let the wine reduce until it got a little thick than added my beans, tomatoes and blanched kale to heat through. Lastly I added a splash of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper.

To serve, I spooned the ragout into a bowl and topped it with my crispy bacon and a few croutons.

How was it? In one word, yummy. Excellent winter comfort food. Even my greens-hating husband called it tasty. I’d make it again in a heartbeat and I plan to add it to my repertoire for my personal chef clients.

*Last year I made lemoncello which only uses the rind of the lemons. I then juiced the lemons and froze the juice in an ice cube tray. I used one cube of juice (a couple of tablespoons).

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