Monday, November 3, 2008

Get Your Green On, Part II

I cannot get enough of greens. It may have something to do with the lack of heat in my apartment as the temperature dips below 45 degrees at night, or perhaps because I've been battling a second round of sore throat, but I've been crazily craving greens. Two weeks ago I made a delicious and super fragrant dish of kale with fall spices. Last week, as I shivered beneath my wool blanket I began to think about another great way to make greens. We've all heard of collards slow cooked with smoked ham hocks, so I figured (possibly in a frost bitten state of hallucination), why not try replicating these flavors in a faster, simpler, easier dish, with a quick cooking green?

While spinach would have been super fast and very healthy, I still had an entire bunch of beautiful red kale sitting in my fridge. It takes slightly longer to cook than other greens --probably because it's actually a wild type of cabbage and not actually a "green"--but it's very good for you, which is why it's a common ingredient in vegan cooking. It's hyper-rich in Vitamins A and C, and is being extensively researched as a possible cancer preventer. All of these amazing health benefits aside, it's actually super tasty and has a nice crunch and bite that other greens don't. So instead of taking the sweet-meets-savory route that I did last time, I figured I'd make that nice, hearty collards and hammocks inspired dish with some fresh chorizo and smoky bacon. And since it'd been a while since I added a little Spanish twist to something, I decided to saute the whole dish in some paprika and garlic infused olive oil.

I started out by cooking up the bacon in a nonstick skillet, then removing it to a plate and cooking up the chorizo in the bacon drippings and then removing that to a plate with the bacon. Then I created a simple refrito, which is just garlic cooked in olive oil until just before it starts to brown, with a tablespoon of paprika added to the oil after it cools down off of the heat. Then I started sautéing the kale in batches on medium-low heat (paprika can burn easily, so don't be tempted to turn it up much higher). Once it all cooked down so the whole bunch fit in the pan, I added some wine, malt vinegar and water (apple cider or juice would be delicious too!). After covering it and lowering the heat so it could slowly wilt and cook down, it was ready to be served. I added the meats back in, tossed it all together then served it up. There was hardly any effort involved at all, and I had a big heaping plate of healthy greens by the end of it (despite the chorizo and bacon). It was so hearty, I didn't even end up grilling the steak I meant to eat with it, I just ate the whole plate of greens. Here's the final recipe:

Spanish Style Red Kale with Chorizo and Bacon

1 bunch red kale (green would do as well, but takes less time to cook)
1 fresh chorizo sausage, casing removed
4 strips of bacon, roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp malt vinegar (cider vinegar would also work)
1/3 cup water

1. Cook bacon in a large non-stick skillet until crispy and remove to a plate. Add chorizo to skillet, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until done. Remove to plate with bacon.

2. Add olive oil to pan if there are not enough drippings (I needed about 2 tablespoons) in the pan, along with the garlic. Cook on medium-low heat until just starting to brown, then remove from heat. When the oil has stopped sizzling, add paprika to oil and stir to combine (this is called a refrito).

3. Return pan to heat and add kale in batches until it all fits in the skillet. Add white wine and vinegar and cook covered until kale is wilted and cooked through (about 10-15 minutes). Add bacon and chorizo, pepper, and taste for salt (mine only needed a pinch). Serve and enjoy!


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