Recipe: Braised Bacon and Kale

Recipe: Braised Bacon and Kale

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Christine Gallary
Jan 19, 2017
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Making a big pot of kale at the beginning of the week is a tasty way to eat your greens without resorting to just salads. Slow-cooking it with chicken broth, onion, garlic, and smoky bacon means the kale gets tender and you're left with a flavorful broth that you can spoon over rice or grains.

Bacon to the Rescue

For those who find kale very strongly flavored, just cook it with a lot of other flavorful ingredients. Start by crisping up bacon and setting some aside as a crispy topping. Cook onions, garlic, and a dash of cumin in the bacon fat, and then add some chicken broth as the cooking liquid.

As for the kale, use whatever kind you like best — flat or curly all braise down deliciously. Just don't use baby kale, which is very tender and will turn to mush if cooked for too long. Prepping the kale is easy, too. Since it's slow-cooked, don't bother cutting out the stems — just chop up the whole leaves and let the braising do the tenderizing for you. With a big pot of this in the fridge, you have some delicious kale at your fingertips all week long.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Braised Bacon and Kale

Serves 6 to 8

8 ounces thick-cut bacon (about 5 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 pounds kale (about 4 small bunches)
1 1/2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed

Place the bacon in a 5 1/2-quart or larger Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned and crisped, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the kale.

Trim the stem ends of the kale, then cut the kale crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces (no need to remove tough stems). Wash and dry the kale; set aside.

When the bacon is ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Add the onion to the bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin if using and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth and salt, season with pepper, scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, and bring to a boil.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, stirring after each addition so that they start to wilt, until all of the kale is added. Stir in the vinegar and half of the reserved bacon. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.

Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or vinegar as needed. Serve topped with the reserved crispy bacon.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The kale can be prepped and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead. You can also just buy 2 pounds of chopped kale leaves (not baby kale).
  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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