Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bitter is better

Here is selective list of things that are much more enjoyable when they are bitter:

1. Dinner companions at a banquet
2. Authors of humorous essay collections*
3. Leafy green vegetables

Sauteed Black Kale with Pancetta

Adapted** from The Gastrokid Cookbook (which, despite being upbeat and cheerful, is quite enjoyable)

A couple of bunches of black kale (cavalo nero), or other kale variety of your choice
Olive oil
1/4 c. diced pancetta
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice

Wash and then drain the kale. Very roughly chop it into 2-inch pieces, discarding the tough stems and any stringy looking pieces. In a large saucepan, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add the kale, and blanch until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain completely in a colander.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add a little olive oil and the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is beginning to brown and crisp, then toss in the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the drained kale and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Spritz with a little lemon juice and serve.***

* Some of my favorite bitter essayists are David Sedaris, Jen Lancaster, Laurie Notaro, and Angela Nissel. Worthy titles from each: Holidays on Ice, Bitter is the New Black, We Thought You Would be Prettier, and The Broke Diaries.
** My adaptation was, of course, to add the Italian bacon.
*** I ate up these intensely flavorful greens with creamy cheesy grits. Virtuous yet self defeating in the same meal. If I was a bitter person, I'd be wryly commenting on this for sure. Hopefully to my acerbic dinner companion over cocktails.

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