In autumn and winter, I like to braise dark leafy greens, like kale, in my enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Braising is a gentle cooking method that calls for a small amount of liquid (I use homemade chicken stock; you can also use filtered water), low heat and a covered pot. Cooking kale
I favor lacinato kale—also known as Italian kale, Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale and black kale—the refined cousin of the coarser, more fibrous curly kale. Lacinato kale is a toothsome complement to pasture-raised meats and game, like beef, lamb, venison and duck.
Kale, like other cruciferous vegetables, is a source of goitrogens, compounds that can inhibit normal function of the thyroid gland. How? Goitrogens interfere with the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine in the thyroid gland; this affects the thyroid’s ability to produce adequate thyroid hormones. As a result, goitrogens can be problematic for those of us, myself included, who have thyroid problems, like Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism.
The good news? Cooking, especially longer, slower cooking methods, like braising (versus a quick saute) can dramatically reduce goitrogens in cruciferous vegetables, like kale.
In this vegetable braise, I use minced onion, garlic and carrot as my base. These vegetables add a natural and appealing sweetness that softens the strong mineral flavor of kale.
For this particular meal, braised Lacinato kale paired deliciously with pasture-raised Ginger Flank Steak.
Braised Lacinato Kale with Onion and Carrot
2 large bunches of organic Lacinato kale, leaves stripped from the stem, well washed
and spun dry
2 medium onions (by hand or in the food processor)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large organic carrots, trim and discard ends, peel, rinse well, and mince
1 cup homemade chicken stock, bone broth (or low/no sodium chicken broth)
OR filtered water
1 tablespoons organic coconut oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, or to taste
To chiffonade the kale: Stack 5 to 8 kale leaves on top of each other and roll the stacked leaves tightly (lengthwise) into a cigar shape. With a sharp knife, thinly slice across the “cigar” of rolled leaves; repeat until the length of the cigar has been sliced. Continue stacking, rolling and slicing until all the kale leaves have been used. When done, fluff up the ribbons of kale with your fingertips. Set aside.
Finely mince carrots by hand. Alternatively, I use a large food processor, placing roughly chopped carrots into bowl and pulsing until finely minced. Remove from food processor and set aside.
To braise the kale: Melt the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pot—like a stainless steel Dutch oven or cast iron-enameled Dutch oven—over medium high heat. When the coconut oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions. Saute over medium heat, adjusting heat as necessary, about 4-8 minutes or until golden brown. Add the minced garlic, stirring about 30 minutes. Add minced carrot, cooking about 1 minute. Add the kale chiffonade, coating the leaves with fat, and stirring until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock or chicken bone broth or filtered water. Let mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stir well, then cover. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the kale is tender. Stir in the Celtic sea salt.