Braising is a cooking method most thought of being used with meat, but vegetables too can benefit from braising. Braising involves high heat searing, followed by slower cooking in variable amounts of liquid until tender, then allowing the liquid to be reabsorbed or used as a sauce or gravy. Traditional southern cooking of greens usually involves a large pot of greens covered with water and simmered for hours until tender. Delicious, yes, but a lot of the nutrient goodness stays in the pot with the liquid. By braising greens like collards or kale, you allow the leaves to become tender, but don’t lose all the flavor and nutrients in the water. Mustard greens can also be prepared this way, but generally require less cooking time. A braising pan makes it easier but any covered skillet or Dutch oven will work.
Braising pan or covered skillet/Dutch oven, chef’s knife, cutting board, stirring spoon, measuring cup/spoons.
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on taste)
2 lbs kale or collard greens, large ribs removed, washed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup water
3 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in braising pan or skillet/Dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown and softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add half the greens, stirring until they begin to wilt. Add remaining greens, stock, water, and ¼ tsp salt; quickly cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender; 25-30 minutes for kale and 35-45 minutes for collards. Remove lid and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 8-12 minutes. Remove pot from heat; stir in 2 tsp lemon juice and remaining tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and remaining tsp of lemon juice. Serve.
For an extra special treat, drizzle each serving with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil just prior to eating, serve with balsamic vinegar.