Lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and cavolo nero, has a husky, almost meat-like depth of flavor and a texture that is sturdier, even when tender, than other winter greens. These qualities, combined with the smokiness of the bacon in this recipe, make a perfect counterpoint to the creamy risotto.
Kale is almost always a side dish and as such, should be taken into consideration when selecting a wine for the main course. Lacinato kale’s texture, which is rich and velvety, engages well with most Pinot Noir and the bacon in this particular preparation furthers the resonance. Should this dish take center stage on your table, you can stick with a Pinot Noir or shift to a plush white wine, such as Peter Michael Winery Cuvée Indigene Chardonnay.
-MICHELE ANNA JORDAN
- 3 bunches (about 21⁄2 pounds) lacinato kale
- 5 bacon slices, preferably dry-cured
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- Red pepper flakes
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1⁄2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Use a sharp paring knife to remove the stems and tough ribs from the kale. Cut the leaves into 2-inch-wide crosswise slices. Put the cut leaves into a large colander; rinse but do not dry as you want water to cling to the leaves. Set aside.
Fry the bacon in a large deep saute pan until crisp; transfer to absorbent paper to drain. (Once cool, crumble the bacon.) Pour off all but about 1⁄3 cup of the bacon fat, return the pan to medium heat, add the shallot and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Season with salt and 2 or 3 pinches of pepper flakes. Add the kale and sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring all the while. Cover the pan and cook over low heat until the kale is tender, about 12 to 15 minutes; uncover and stir now and then. Remove from the heat. Fold in the lemon zest, half the bacon and half the pine nuts, taste and correct for salt. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter the remaining bacon and pine nuts on top and serve.