While collard and mustard greens often get the braising treatment, kale’s sturdy leaves also make it great for simmering and soaking up flavor. The best part about braising greens? They really don’t take that long, but they taste like they’ve been slow cooking for hours. Replacing the traditional bacon with pancetta brings our braised kale recipe up a notch, and the addition of a little brown sugar complements the savory stock.
2 ounces pancetta, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
½ teaspoon dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Two large bunches of kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 3-inch pieces
1 cup chicken stock
Add the pancetta to a No.8 (10 ¼”) cast iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy around the edges. Transfer to paper towels to drain, leaving the fat behind in the pan.
Add garlic and shallot to the same pan and reduce the heat to medium low. (If the pancetta didn’t render much fat, add a tablespoon of olive oil.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and stir until the onions and garlic are evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Add the kale in large handfuls, letting each addition wilt slightly before adding more. Once all the kale has been added, cover the pan and simmer until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the skillet and continue simmering until all the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the reserved pancetta over the kale and serve.