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Not that long ago, kale was not part of my repertoire for some reason but then after travelling to Italy for the first time, I realized what I was missing. I actually grow lacinato kale to make this absolutely scrumptious veggie side dish! I have served it with roast chicken, roast turkey and roast pork. If you like, you can prep. the kale the day before and keep in the fridge until ready to be blanched. If you are going to make your own stock, do this a few days ahead and keep in the fridge.
Makes 6 – 8 Side Dish Servings
2 ¼ lbs. kale (cavolo nero, aka lacinato kale, dinosaur kale), stems & centre ribs discarded
2 tbsp. EVOO
¼ lb. pancetta, cut into ¼” dice
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley sprigs
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 whole head of garlic, halved horizontally
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 – 4 cups unsalted homemade chicken stock** or purchased chicken broth
Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt.
Meanwhile, place the oven rack in the middle position of the oven & preheat to 350 F. Cut out a round of baking parchment to fit just inside a 5 – 6 quart heavy ovenproof pot; set the parchment round aside.
Blanch the kale in the boiling water in 2 batches, 2 minutes per batch, transferring with tongs to a colander, set over a large bowl; drain well.
Heat the oil in the large pot over medium heat; add the pancetta & cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, approximately 10 minutes; transfer pancetta, using a slotted spoon, to a plate & reserve. Discard all but 4 Tbsp. of the fat in the pot.
Tie the thyme, bay leaf & parsley together with kitchen string & add to the pot along with the onions & garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Return the pancetta to the pot; add the butter & heat, stirring occasionally, until it’s melted. Stir in the blanched kale & add enough stock to cover ¾ of the kale. Increase the heat to high & bring mixture to a simmer. Lay the round of parchment on top of the kale, then place the pot in the oven & braise, stirring once or twice, until the kale is very tender, about 45 minutes.
Transfer the pot to stovetop & discard the parchment; boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid is evaporated but kale is still moist, approximately 35 minutes. Discard tied up bundle of herbs & the garlic; season with salt & pepper & serve immediately.
**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.