Originally uploaded by kusine
Been a month since my last post, but the garden is still humming along. I've kept tracking harvests in my garden journal and am mostly pleased with how well everything's been doing this year. I promise some posts about the onion and chard harvests soon.
For now, I'd like to post about something I've been meaning to post about for a couple of weeks, which is the surprise harvests of kale. Specifically, the dwarf Russian kale I've been growing for the last couple of years (a variety you can find in the photo above). In 2009, kale seemed about the only crop my garden did really well at. Last year, after I moved the garden to another part of the yard, the kale crop was abysmal. Most of it succumbed to cabbage moths and aphids. This year, despite my lack of real effort or attention, the kale has done quite well. While a pound or two is hardly a bumper crop, it's certainly better than last year. I can't say whether it's my rotation plan or earlier start or covering of the crop in spring. The particular bed in which I'm growing was not amended with compost last fall, so it's certainly not that.
When you realize you have a much of kale, the next question is, "Well, how do I use this?" Growing up, the only time I ever saw kale was as a garnish on salad bars or plates. Once or twice I tried eating the stuff and was grossed out by the bitter taste. As I've gotten older and my palate has expanded, I discovered that kale and other bitter greens are actually pretty good when paired with the right ingredients and cooked a certain way. Personally, I like greens best when stirred into soups, but sautéing and braising are also excellent methods to tone down the bitter flavor. Kale especially has an affinity for garlic, sausage, and potatoes, and you'll find that many recipes capitalize on one or more of these ingredients.
Since we've been getting lots of produce from our CSA and plenty of other vegetables from the garden, I had to figure out another way to use kale besides dinner. I remembering seeing some breakfast hash dishes that featured the usual potatoes with some greens thrown in and, remembering that potatoes are awesome with kale, decided to invent a potato-kale hash. Mind you, I'm not very good at inventing my own recipes and prefer to tweak already existing recipes. Every Sunday I like to make a big breakfast for me and the SO as a special treat, which means I've gotten very good at frying potatoes and sausage without having to follow instructions. I've made up a few hashes and scrambles before, so coming up with a recipe wasn't much work. The first attempt was OK, but I added the freshly washed kale to the potatoes, which turned the potatoes a bit soggy. On the second attempt I removed the potatoes from the skillet, then added the kale, which turned out to be just the right fix. I thought I'd share the final recipe with anyone reading. It makes a nice breakfast for two and can be tweaked to suit your palate.
Kale and Potato Hash
1lb potatoes, any kind, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2lb sausage or 4 slices bacon
1/2lb-1lb kale, sliced and washed
1 onion, halved and sliced or 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- Put potatoes into saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Heat to boiling, remove from heat, and drain.
- Meanwhile, heat skillet (cast iron is best) over medium heat. Cook sausage or bacon until browned and then drain on paper towel.
- Drain fat from pan, leaving a bit of a film. Add 3-4 tablespoons of oil to pan (peanut or canola is best, but olive oil is fine too). Add drained potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes over medium heat, turning as they brown. Cook until golden brown and then drain on paper towel.
- Add onions or garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and softened. Add kale to pan and cook, stirring, until wilted and water has cooked off. Add potatoes and sausage or bacon and turn heat to low, keeping warm while eggs cook. Season to taste.
- Fry eggs in separate pan, preferably over-easy or sunny-side-up so you have runny yolks to flavor hash. Serve hash with egg on top or on the side.
- Some people will insist you can only use baking potatoes for frying. I use whatever's on hand. If using boiling or new potatoes, you might want to boil until the potatoes are a bit softened, or just increase overall cooking time.
- Spicy or sage sausages are best for this recipe, since they add lots of flavor.
- You can save as much fat from the sausage or bacon as you like. Personally, I find it doesn't lend the same crispness to the potatoes as vegetable-based oil, but I like to retain some of it for the flavor.
- Any kind of savory fresh herb, such as summer savory, sage, thyme, or rosemary, makes a great addition to this recipe. Just chop it up and add with the kale in Step #4. This is especially a good idea if you decide to omit the meat or eggs.
- If you hate fried eggs, you can modify the recipe into a scramble by beating the eggs beforehand and stirring into the kale and potatoes.