True to my southern Virginia heritage, I love green vegetables – especially collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens; and also broccoli and brussels sprouts. But I do like them “Southern Style,” which means a little of this and a little of that from my spice locker. Well-seasoned, then simmered for several hours, they will provide a great vegetable side dish for just about any meal.
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium and also has potent anti-cancer properties. Kale has also been found to contain a group of resins known as bile acid sequestrants, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and decrease absorption of dietary fat. Admittedly, boiling them reduces some of the nutrional properties, as compared with steaming, micro-waving, or stir-frying, but this recipe is about Southern Style Kale, ergo, we’re going to simmer them…slowly.
4 bunches of curly kale
6-oz salt pork (or thick-sliced bacon)
4 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or chili) flakes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp lard (Crisco)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil (EVOO)
Carefully trim the green leaves from the stems. You only want the leafy part, not the stems. As you trim the leaves off, place them in a sink full of cold water. Not only do you want to make sure they are washed, the cold water will crisp them up nicely as well. When you are finished trimming the kale, leave the leaves to soak in the water.
Pour 1-32oz container of chicken broth into a large dutch oven or stockpot. (I typically use my 7-qt Berndez) You may have to add more broth later, but 4 cups will be enough to get things started.
If you’re using fatback, score it with 1/8 inch cuts down to the back rind but not all the way through. Bring the broth to a boil, and add the salt pork or bacon. Cover, and reduce heat to low simmer for one hour.
While the seasoning and broth is simmering, give the kale leaves a final rinse and put them into a large colander to drain. If you have a double sink, you can just use the other side to drain them.
I always like to measure out my ingredients ahead of time.
Add the remaining ingredients, give it a stir, and then slowly add the kale leaves to the pot. You’re going to have a big pile of them, so you’ll have to press and compress each handful as you put them in the pot.
Cover, and if necessary, bring the broth back to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook, covered, for about three hours. (After they have cooked down about 30 minutes, stir them up so as to mix them well with the broth/seasoning mixture)
Be sure and check the simmering process from time to time, as it may be necessary to add more broth if it has cooked down too much. You really want the kale to be well-steamed. If you need to add more broth, you can also use dissolved chicken bullion cubes as an alternative.
We like to serve them right out of the pot, using a slotted spoon so the liquid will drain. Afterwards, leftovers will keep nicely in the fridge for 7-10 days.
You may also add onions, green pepper, okra, potatoes, and/or corn bread dumplings, according to personal choice. During the last 30 minutes to 1 hour of cooking, you can easily add these additional ingredients if you wish. Just place them right on top of the kale, and they will cook nicely.
Even without any of these additional ingredients, your kale greens will provide you with a tender and succulent southern dish.
Serve as a side dish, with vinegar and hot sauce.
Bon Appetit, y’all!