I don’t love kale. I do love beans and bacon. Mixing the three not only makes the kale good, it rounds out the dish by adding color and texture, as well as brining it up from a side to a main course if you want. I’ll serve this with a side of roasted vegetables, but it does great as a stand alone meal, for lunch the next day, or spooned over toast with eggs.
This is a long dish, it’s going to take 8-12 hours to prep the beans, then another hour to cook the beans, and yet another 20-30 minutes to finish things off, so plan accordingly.
- 2 cups dried white beans
- 2 onions
- 2-4 garlic cloves
- 6-10 strips bacon
- 1 bunch kale
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs
- Bay Leaf
- Salt + Pepper
- Soak- drop the beans into a large pot and cover in plenty of fresh water. Leave them to soak for at least 8 hours, up to 12. If you have the time, strain and add fresh water every few hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat a pot over medium heat and rough chop one of the onions. Keep the pieces big, so you can pick out chunks later.
- When your pot’s hot give it a slick of olive oil to cover the bottom and toss in the onion. Sauté until the onion softens and the edges brown. Hit it with some salt and pepper.
- When the onion’s ready, drain the beans, toss in with the kale, and give it a stir. Add fresh water, enough to cover everything by one to two inches.
- Add in a couple bay leaves and crank up the heat to high. Let things come to a boil and skim off the chunky foam that will float to the top.
- Drop the heat to low, cover, and simmer. Let it roll for an hour or so.
- While the beans cook, prep the rest of the ingredients- dice the second onion, mince the garlic, slice the bacon into chunks, and stem + rough cut the kale.
- When the beans are done, strain out the liquid and toss out the bay leaves and any big chunks of onion. Gently rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Set the beans aside.
- Put the pot back on, turn the heat to medium high, and give it another slick of olive oil.
- Add the bacon, and cook until it gives up it’s fat and starts to crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside.
- Throw in the kale, onion and garlic. Hit it with a couple solid pinches of salt and pepper. Kale is hearty, but sauté it long enough and it will cook down just like spinach. Let it sizzle around in the bacon fat until it’s a quarter of it’s original volume.
- Splash in a tablespoon or so of vinegar and use the liquid to deglaze the pan and get any browned bits mixed back in.
- Add back the bacon and beans, then gently fold util everything’s incorporated. You want to keep the beans as intact as possible, take your time so you don’t end up with mush. * Taste and add salt, pepper or more vinegar as you’d like.
- Top with fresh herbs (I used cilantro, but parsley or any other leafy herb will be great too).
- Resist the urge to eat from the pan and serve. Or don’t, grab a fork and dig right into the pan.