Serves eight as a side dish.
3 pounds kale, preferably black Tuscan cavolo nero, also known as lacinato kale
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter One 6-ounce slice smoked ham,
cut Into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken or
Red-wine vinegar (optional)
Remove the tough stems from the kale leaves by slicing a narrow “V” up into each leaf to remove the entire stem. Wash the leaves well in cold water and drain in a colander. Stuff into large zip-top bags and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours or up to a month.
Fill an 8-quart pot with 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Add a good pinch of salt and add the frozen kale. Cover with the lid slightly askew and cook on high heat, turning occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. The kale should still have a little bite but shouldn’t be stringy or tough. Drain in a colander and press with the back of a large spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. When cool enough to touch, chop it into small pieces.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook until it starts to brown a little, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and a pinch of salt; cook covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. If the onion or garlic start to brown, lower the heat. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Return the kale to the pot, stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, season generously with pepper, and cook gently until the flavors are well blended, about 7 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately with a slotted spoon. Offer red-wine vinegar for sprinkling on individual portions, if you like. -Bill Telepan
Unlike spinach and chard, kale leaves take a while to cook to a tender texture, and kale stems are nearly impervious to tenderizing. That’s why the first step in preparing kale is trimming the stems. The aim is not just to trim the stems below the leaves, but also to remove most of the stem from the center of the leaf, where it acts like a supporting rib. To do this, lay a leaf upside down on a cutting board and use a paring knife to cut a V shape along both sides of the rib, cutting it free from the leaf.
The kale shown here is black kale, a.k.a. Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, cavalo nero, or dinosaur kale.