Oh, it is fall, and my cooking is heading straight for the larder. It’s bacon and cream for me this week, it seems. (Why yes, as a matter of fact, bacon and cream do make a person happier. Indeed.)
Claiming a favorite recipe of 2007 in October would be jumping the gun, I guess, but with its deep, earthy, uniquely mineral flavor, this simple gratin will certainly make the top 10. With a freezer full of good bacon, I’ll definitely be buying a lot of kale this winter.
Bacon and Kale Gratin (PDF)
Recipe 276 of 365
Red Russian Kale is gorgeous, with its deep emerald-green leaves and red ribs, but like most grown-up kale, it’s most tender when it’s cooked a long time. To prepare it for this hearty, warming side dish, chop the tough ends off right where the leaves begin to sprout out of the stalk. Arrange the Kale in parallel bunches, and cut the kale into 1/4” strips across the stalk, almost like cutting basil into chiffonade. Once the kale is cut, it’s easier to soak and spin dry in a salad spinner.
TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: 4 to 6 servings
2 thick slices bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4” dice
1 big bundle Red Russian Kale (about 1 1/4 pound), rinsed, dried, and cut into chiffonade
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, cut into tiny cubes, plus more for buttering dish
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Preheat a large, deep skillet or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the bacon, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until almost crispy. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5 minutes, stirring, or until the kale turns bright green. Add the stock, cover the pot, and cook 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Take the lid off the kale and cook another 5 minutes or so, until no liquid remains at the bottom of the pot. (You want the kale to be fairly dry.)
Remove the pot from the heat, add the flour, and stir until no white remains. Butter a medium oval gratin dish (a pie plate or several small crème brulee dishes or large ramekins would work as well), and transfer the kale to the gratin dish in a roughly even layer. Season the kale with salt and pepper, dot with the butter, and sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top. Drizzle the cream over cheese, and bake for 30 minutes, until the cream is bubbling and the cheese is browned. Serve warm.