This was my all-day Sunday project. It doesn't have to take all day, but it can, and it will taste better if you let it. Most of the time it's just cooking slow and low on the stove while you do other things. And you can tell people you spent the whole day cooking if you know the kind of person who is impressed by that.
serves 6-8 people
- 1 bunch of kale, cleaned and chopped small
- 2 carrots, small dice
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 stalks of celery, small dice
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 pound smoked meat (pork hocks or turkey necks or turkey legs or other)
- 1 quart of water or stock (stock will add more flavor but don't go to the store if you don't already have some, I didn't and it was still delicious)
- 3 cups black eyed peas, fresh or frozen (you can use dried, you'll just have to add them sooner and cook them a lot longer)
- some fresh herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (yeah I know) will enhance this if you have them handy, it's fine without so don't feel like you have to go out of your way, you can add a little bit towards the end.
- some kosher salt and/or fish sauce
Serve with steamed rice or crusty bread with butter
Note about the meat you choose: What you want is a muscle that worked, a leg, a neck, a tail, a cheek, something like that. These parts have a lot of flavor and a lot of connective tissue that will break down and add body and richness to your braise. The smoke is a natural friend to greens and peas. I used turkey legs because that's what I happened to have in the freezer.
Note about the liquid you choose: There are enough flavor components in the recipe that you can cook all of this in water. If you have stock you can use that and it will boost the flavor. I recommend avoiding anything that says broth, these always have too much salt. You can use them or bouillon sparingly. Smoked meat already is pretty salty so you don't want to add too much.
- Cut up all the vegetables. Your goal is to have everything roughly the same size as a black eyed pea.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil to the pan.
- You're going to sweat all the vegetables first. This means to saute without browning to cook out a little bit of the liquid and concentrate the flavors of the vegetables. Cook the onion first, adding a pinch of salt and stirring often.
- Add the carrots when the onions are translucent and before they start to brown. Add another pinch of salt and stir it up.
- Add the celery and garlic when the carrots begin to soften a little. Don't burn the garlic.
- Add your smoked meat and cooking liquid. Turn the heat up a bit and let the liquid come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, put the lid on and walk away for a couple of hours. How long depends on what meat you are using, you'll know it's done when the meat falls off the bone.
- Remove the meat from the pot and set it aside to let it cool.
- Add all of the kale, or add as much as will fit, put the lid on and let it cook, then add the rest when the first batch has wilted down. Stir it in to the cooking liquid, put the lid back on, leave the heat down low.
- When the meat has cooled enough to touch pull it apart, discard the bones and skin (they've given away all the flavor they have to give at this point) and return the shredded meat to the pot. This is a good time to stop and taste the cooking liquid for salt. Add some kosher salt and/or fish sauce (I like fish sauce here because it adds salt and a punch of umami).
- Cook for at least 90 minutes more. You want the kale stems to be soft and the leafy parts to be really soft.
- Add the black eyed peas and chopped fresh herbs if you're using them, mix them in, and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the peas are soft. Taste again and add more salt if you feel it's needed. (You shouldn't taste salt, but if there isn't a lot of flavor, if it just sort of feels flat on your tongue then you may need to add another bit.)
- This is great over rice with your favorite hot sauce, or with some buttery crusty bread.