The Enemy Kale
When I was young, my mother fixed kale every once in a while, probably in the fall when it is at its best. Hers was a curly kind, strong and darkly green; we kids were reasonably bratty whenever she served it. She was one of those mothers who insist that one clean one's plate before dessert - we choked it down but not without making faces and mutterings under the breath. Once I was married and out of her house, I vowed never to subject myself to kale again. Just goes to show you - never say never.
This kale was of the lacinato variety, still darkly green but with pointed, flattish leaves on stiff white ribs as one might expect from the name. I decided to cook it much as we do Swiss chard, coarsely chopped and butter-steamed with garlic chips, and to serve it along side chicken roasted with potatoes and shallots. It took longer to relax than chard does - rather like my mother, kale is made of sterner stuff. When it finally slumped to the bottom of the pan, we sat down to a surprisingly nutty, chewy green, not at all the leathery, curly mouthful of my memory. I liked the combination of spartan, slightly bitter green with the richness of the roast chicken and shallots.
I'm sending a mental apology once again to Mom up there in heaven. It takes a little getting used to, but kale is not the enemy.