vinegar braised kale

I am not a kale fan. I mean, not at all. I avoid the bitter green with great prejudice. But....something called me to try preparing it this way. Actually, someone. Specifically, my mother, who had bought a large bunch of kale at the farmer's market a few days past and wanted to use it up.

"How about a kale salad," she suggested. 

Kale salad? Not so much.

"How about kale coleslaw?" 

I don't think so.

"Kale chips?"

Not my thing. To her credit, my mom continued offering suggestions, each of which were shot down in succession.

But then, I was making fried chicken for dinner. So, a natural complement to that meal is...collard greens. I didn't have any collards, but there was the big old leafy kale, in all it's bitter green glory.

I went to the store to find a ham hock, but they only had ham shanks. Which turned out perfectly, since we only had one bunch of greens. I sauteed up 3/4 of a yellow onion, added various liquids, and the kale, and stewed everything for a few hours.

It was good. Great, in fact. The vinegar tamed the bitterness in the greens, which became soft and buttery, and I actually saved the last few morsels (about three forkfuls) so I could eat them for lunch today. Then I used the leftover braising liquid to make some delicious rice...but that's another story.

If you have family members who don't like kale, make this. Make it just like this. They'll come around.

Here's how it's done:

braised kale 1.jpg

Chop your onion into fairly small dice, and saute it in a little oil with the ham shank, until the onion starts to caramelize- this should take about 10 minutes. While the onion is cooking, prep and chop your kale.

Fold the leaves in two after washing, and cut out the rib of each leaf. Then rip or chop into smallish pieces.

Fold the leaves in two after washing, and cut out the rib of each leaf. Then rip or chop into smallish pieces.

Once the onion has begun caramelizing, drop the butter in the pot to melt. Because, you know what, you just need to. When the butter has melted, add the vinegar, chicken stock, and hot sauce.

Don't be afraid of the butter. Love the butter. Be the butter. You are the butter.

Don't be afraid of the butter. Love the butter. Be the butter. You are the butter.

Pure deliciousness.

Pure deliciousness.

Once the liquids come to a low boil, add the brown sugar, and stir until it dissolves. Then, dump in your prepped and chopped kale. It will start to wilt instantly. Give it a good stir, turn the heat to low, and pop the lid on it for two hours.

When it's almost time to serve, open the lid and check out your beautiful greens.

Remove the ham shank and carefully cut the meat off the bone, returning the meat bits to the pot. Discard any bits of fat or gristle.

G&T recommended to aid chopping skills. Extra lime.

G&T recommended to aid chopping skills. Extra lime.

Cook it for a few minutes more with the ham in the pot, then dish it up and serve.

This recipe yields enough for 3-4 people. but you could easily scale it up for more.

This recipe yields enough for 3-4 people. but you could easily scale it up for more.

Recipe:

1 T olive oil

3/4 yellow onion, diced

1 ham shank

1/2 c. salted butter

3 1/2 c chicken stock

1 c red wine vinegar

1/4 c jalapeno hot sauce

1/3 c brown sugar

1 large bunch kale, washed and stems removed

 

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and the ham hock. Cook about ten minutes, until the onion is caramelized, stirring occasionally.

Add the butter, and once it melts, add the stock, vinegar, and hot sauce. Cook to a boil, then add the brown sugar. Stir and cook until the sugar dissolves.

Add the greens, turn the heat to low, and stir a few times. Cover and cook for 2 hours, or until the greens are tender. 

Remove the ham hock and pick the meat. Return the meat to the pan and stir. Cook 5 minutes more, stir, and serve.