Thursday, June 17, 2010

perfect kale

Wednesday: roasted chicken; sweet potato spears; "braised" kale

The Zuni Cafe roast chicken recipe is pretty much the only one I use. Once in a while I'll dally with another technique for roasting the bird, but I always come back to this. It is especially good if you have time to let the chicken rest for three days before cooking, though two or even one day of rest will still give you a delicious dinner.

I don't bother with the herbs - I don't think their flavor gets into any of the meat that's not in direct contact with them. I also have decided that the pan drippings are put to better use in a gravy than in the bread salad she suggests (I say this even after having had the chicken/bread salad at Zuni in SF... it's good, but not worth giving up gravy for). I usually add some stock to the pan after I take the chicken out, but this time I made the gravy with some white wine we had in the fridge - definitely a tasty addition.

Last night we also roasted some sweet potatoes while the chicken cooked - they were tossed with olive oil/salt/pepper. I think I ended up having them in the oven for about half the chicken's cooking time. I'd also planned to make Michael Ruhlman's braised kale, but as I started cooking I realised two things: I didn't have most of the ingredients, and my 475F oven was likely too hot. What I came up with was probably the best kale I've ever eaten, though, so it all worked out in the end.

Kale with Guanciale
inspired by Michael Ruhlman's braised kale

  • hunk of guanciale, diced
  • two large bunches kale, cleaned and cut into strips (don't dry it - you want the residual water clinging to the leaves)
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • glug or two sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
In a large pan over medium-low heat, cook the guanciale until the fat is mostly rendered and the meat is beginning to crisp. Add the kale and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until it has started to wilt. Add a pinch or two of salt, a grind or two of pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 15-30 minutes (honestly, I have no idea how long it was cooking for... until it looked done, I guess). When it's mostly cooked, add the honey and sherry. Cook off the liquid, taste, and add more salt or pepper as needed.
makes 3-4 servings

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