This time of year, cooked kale is easier on the digestive system—and on my low thyroid. And, by “cooked”, I mean “braised”.
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 lovely, earthy foil for the likes of bacon, pork, lamb and duck—also savory when generously drizzled with a good olive oil.
In autumn and winter, I like to braise this mineral-rich leafy green in my enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Braising is a gentle cooking method that calls for a small amount of liquid (I use bone broth; you can also use water), low heat and a covered pot. I normally do a vegetable braise, using garlic and onion as my base. But, after a food sensitivity test last fall revealed that I was sensitive to 100 different foods, including (sadly!) onion, I now substitute a mirepoix of minced carrots and celery for onion in all my meat and vegetable braises. Feel free to use 1 medium onion, finely minced, instead of the carrot-celery mirepoix.
Braised Lacinato Kale Chiffonade
2 large bunches of lacinato kale, leaves stripped from the stem, well washed
and spun dry
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 organic carrots, trim and discard ends, peel, and rinse well
4 celery stalks, trim and discard ends, remove tough strings with a peeler, and rinse well
1/2 cup (more if needed) of grass-fed beef, pork or chicken bone broth;
stock; OR filtered water
2 tablespoons coconut oil (I recommend Dr. Bronner’s or Nutiva)
Celtic sea salt 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.
Cut carrots and celery into fine dice. Or, faster yet, cut carrots and celery into chunks and place in food processor. Pulse 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 or cast iron-enameled Dutch oven—over medium high heat. When the fat is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic. Stir about 30 seconds. Add the minced carrot and celery, cooking until wilted about 1 minute. Add the kale chiffonade, coating the leaves with fat, and stirring until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add bone broth, stock, or filtered water. Let mixture come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until the kale is tender.
If there’s any residual liquid left from my vegetable braise, I pour it into a mug and drink it! Why throw all that yumminess (and nutrients) away?!