I don’t want to suggest that the only way to eat kale is when it’s smothered in bacon grease and bourbon. But I think it probably is the best way.
This is a recipe originally available from Garden and Gun (online here), passed on to me by a coworker who, like me, was sick of kale salad after kale salad. Again, not that there is really anything wrong with kale salad, but every once in a while, you want something a little more tender, more meaty, something easier to convince your loved ones to eat.
The foundation of the dish is something called “bacon jam,” a concoction of bourbon, bacon, bacon grease, vinegar, and a little bit of sugar. Once you’ve got that mixture, you toss in your chopped kale and wait for it to wilt. It practically melts into the bacon jam, leaving you with an amazing sweet/sour/bitter combination. Remember how I said that all flavor is a combination of fat, salt and acid? This is a perfect example of a good balance among the three.
You can, of course, eat this as a meal. I most recently used it as a show-stealing side along with some chicken-apple sausage, letting the different types and levels of sweetness play off of each other.
I modified the recipe a little to include only kale (not other greens) and to scale the amount of bacon jam so you don’t have leftovers. In the process, the proportions changed a little, most notably a reduction in bourbon. If you’re Paleo, you can skip the sugar or use coconut sugar and skip the bourbon as well…just the bacon, vinegar and mustard already elevate this dish to something special.
- 6 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into little strips
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 Tbsp bourbon
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp dijon
- 1 large bunch of lacinato kale, cut into ribbons
- Fry bacon over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until it begins to turn golden. Add onions and turn down heat to low. Cover and cook until onion is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add bourbon, vinegar, sugar and dijon and turn heat back to medium. Stir to combine and cook until the “jam” has thickened.
- Throw in your kale and stir. Remove from heat once the kale has begin to wilt, but before it gets mushy (5 minutes). Serve immediately, though it’s pretty good cold the next day.