Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Recipe: Restaurant Kale, Part 1

Bread Euphoira is my morning place, my second family, a source of friendship, coffee, sugar, advice on things. Things such as kale for example. 

Recent forays into the restaurant world investigate how this tough, obscure little plant is playing out in eating establishments across America. Perched on a ridge in the foot of the hilltowns in my little part of the country is a place run by a mad baker and his wife with a stalwart staff including Molly and Sean. Molly wants to learn to how to make kale. Has a friend who grew up on a commune, intentional living, works wonders with kale. Molly specializes in Mac and Cheese and aspires to Commune foods. 

For her, kale is an unattainable feat. We discuss kale for a couple mornings and she, in conversation, pauses for a brainstorm and says, “Oh, right here, he knows how to cook everything, ask him about kale!” Sean comes into the conversation, nods, and recites the following about kale. (It should be noted that he is tall and fair in complexion with dark hair and glasses perched almost a third of the way down on his nose. Molly is a sprite with a great black shock of straight bangs.)  

Sean says: “I always blanch it. You have to blanch it. After blanching it, no vinegar. Kale is too bitter already, do butter. I like butter.” He later adds that oil is OK but definately not vinegar. Sean talks restaurant talk. You will see what I mean by the recipe below. 

So I go home and try it and it works pretty well. Couple of weeks later I go back and discuss kale with Molly again. She blanches at the idea of blanching and I can’t say that I blame her. What is blanching anyway? Steep in boiling water. What is steep, how long is the boil, what kind of boil, what kind of pan? You can use any pan deep enough to take the kale with some water on top to ‘cover.’ Bring the water with some salt to a boil, put the kale in the pot until the it withers a bit, or is ‘shocked’ by the water. This will soften the kale but not overcook it making kale attainable, less elusive, for all mankind, not just those in The Commune.

RECIPE: Sean’s Kale

1-Bunch Kale
Butter (or oil)

Blanch kale until al dente (not too soft, with a bit of a bite)
Serve as a ‘hot side’ meaning warm, on the side, maybe tossed with butter and salt and pepper with whatever else you have like red pepper strips or pickled onions, hard boiled eggs, etc. 

NOTE: wash kale, remove stems and roughly chop before beginning this recipe -- MN