This kale recipe couldn’t be more simple or wolesome. Spring is a great time of year to find baby kale and other greens, but if you’re in a less small farmer-friendly part of the country, Earthbound Farm is now selling one pound containers labeled “Mixed Baby Kales” that are very convenient and reasonably priced. Trader Joe’s also sells bags of chopped mixed greens that would be equally wonderful.
This recipe isn’t truly a braise in terms of technique, but braised kale sure sounds better than steamed kale, am I right? Serve this dish alongside any meat or fish, or atop a simple bowl of creamy polenta with vintage cheddar cheese and a soft-cooked egg. This recipe also wouldn’t be terrible with a nice sprinkling of pancetta or bacon, but I’m taking the day off from pork.
Braised Baby Kale with Apples and Brandy:
*makes 4 – 6 servings
2 Tbsp. PLUS 1 Tbsp. butter
1 small red onion, small dice
1 medium tart apple (Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Lady Alice are good choices)
freshly ground nutmeg (just a pinch or about 5 or 6 zips across a microplane)
1/4 C. good quality brandy
1 # baby kale (or 3 bunches kale, chopped)
2 Tbsp. water
seal salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot with a lid over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pot and add the onions, seasoning them with salt and plenty of ground pepper. Cook the onions until they are caramelized and starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. This will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your onions and the heat of your pan. The longer they cook, the more often they need to be stirred, so don’t walk away for too long!
Once the onions are nicely caramelized (see above), add the apples and nutmeg and stir to thoroughly combine. Pour in the brandy and stir to deglaze the pan. Next, cram all of the kale into the pan and sprinkle it lightly with salt. Drizzle the 2 Tbsp. water over the top of the kale and cover tightly.
Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale has collapsed down about half way (if all of your kale didn’t fit, go ahead and add the rest now). Use tongs to toss the kale together with the other ingredients while simultaneously allowing the extra water to evaporate off. Once the kale is all softened but still bright green, use the tongs to pull it out of the pan allowing the excess moisture to drip off, and place on a platter or in a bowl.
Increase the heat to high beneath the apples, onions, and liquid that remains in the pan. Boil for just a few minutes, or until just a tablespoon or so of the liquid remains. Add the last tablespoon of butter to the pan and stir until it melts. Spoon this mixture over the kale and serve immediately.