Greens are a staple in Southern cuisine. While collards, turnip greens and mustard greens are old favorites, kale is also grown and enjoyed in North Carolina. Many traditional recipes call for boiling the greens with some fatback or ham hocks, but I prefer to saute my greens when I can find some fresh young, tender greens at a local market. Today I was fortunate to pick up some young, locally grown, organic kale at the Whole Foods store in Durham, and here's how I cooked it this evening.
1/2 lb. young or baby kale
1 Tbs bacon fat OR olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
Optional: Ground black pepper or red pepper, salt, hot sauce
Wash the kale, trim off any tough stalks, and coarsely chop the leaves. Melt the bacon fat or heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Stir in the minced garlic and saute for a few minutes until the garlic softens. Add the kale, stir and cover to steam-cook for a few minutes. Uncover, add the wine, stir well, re-cover and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale has softened. Taste and seasoned if desired with pepper and/or salt and/or hot sauce. Note: When I cook the kale in bacon fat, I find that it needs no additional seasoning, except for maybe a splash of hot sauce if I'm craving something spicy.
PS: This was the side dish that I served with my "famous" mussels. I'll post my mussels recipe within the next few days, so make sure to stay tuned to this blog!
PPS: I buy my bacon from a butcher who buys naturally raised, free-range pork from a local farm, and he smokes and cures it naturally without nitrites. The farm is not officially certified as "organic" because of the overwhelming costs and bureaucracy involved in obtaining government certification. Whenever I fry up some of this naturally produced bacon, which also happens to be leaner than mass-produced commercial brands from grocery stores, I save and refrigerate the drippings for use in recipes.