Another disclaimer: The following is not really a "recipe" but rather a guide to cooking kale with roasted garlic and fatback. The key is to use the best-quality ingredients you can afford, ideally local organic kale and fatback from organic or naturally-raised free range pork. "Conventional" ingredients will work just fine, too, if that's what you have. The ingredient amounts are flexible and can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences and to fit what you have on hand. Don't sweat the small stuff, don't dwell on the details, and have fun when making this dish: Enjoy the texture of the raw kale in your hands, inhale the fragrance of the garlic as it roasts and the mouthwatering aroma of the fatback as it fries (think bacon on steroids), and let your eyes linger on the changing colors of the ingredients as they cook... And then indulge your mouth with the robust flavors and buttery/crunchy textures.
1 large bunch of kale
About 4 oz fatback
As many cloves of roasted garlic* as you like
Salt (I use sea salt), ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Juice of half a lemon (freshly squeezed is best)
*To save time, check out my post for quick stovetop "roasted" garlic or use store-bought roasted garlic.
|Served with Hoppin' John & Bacon Cornbread for New Year's Day|
While the fatback cooks, thoroughly wash the kale, shake off excess water and strip or cut the tough stalks from the leaves, then tear or cut the leaves into large-bite size pieces (I prefer to tear by hand).
When the fatback is cooked, you can either add all of the kale to the pan or first drain off some of the grease leaving about 2 Tbs of grease in the pan and then add the kale and roasted garlic. Note: Excess fatback grease can be stored in the refrigerator and used like bacon grease to saute or flavor other recipes.
Saute the kale until wilted and tender (I like mine "al dente") then add the lemon juice and season with salt and peppers to taste. Serves 4 as a side dish.
PS: In the South, greens are often served with a splash or two of hot sauce, so feel free to do so if you enjoy spicy foods.