Thursday, October 7, 2010

Braised greens with bacon and white beans

Andrew and I are heading to my parents' house in Indiana tomorrow, and I still have to pack, so this is going to be a quick post. As I've mentioned in the past, greens are a bit of a challenge for me, although I'm starting to get a handle on how to cook them well. Recently I've discovered that braising is a great technique for some of the tougher greens that are popping up at the markets this time of year - the greens get tender but not at all mushy. This dish is simple enough for a weeknight dinner, but still very flavorful, mostly because of the cheese rind in the braising liquid.

One warning - wash your greens well! The dish isn't quite so enjoyable if you find yourself chewing grit...   

Braised greens with bacon and white beans
Serves 4-6

1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves rinsed and roughly chopped
1 bunch beet greens or other hearty greens, ribs removed, leaves rinsed and roughly chopped
1 leek, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 thick-cut slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 can (14 oz. or so) cannellini beans, rinsed
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
Red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

Saute bacon in a large pan over medium heat. When fat is rendered and bacon is beginning to crisp, pour off some of the fat (how much you keep is up to you - a tablespoon should be sufficient, but feel free to keep more!). Add the leeks and garlic and saute until leeks begin to soften. Add greens, broth, beans, cheese rind, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring liquid to a simmer, cover pan, and cook greens until tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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