This recipe featuring lovely tasty kale is posted, in part, in honor of the last day of G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen), which everyone who knows me has heard way too much about (and has likely been asked to participate in). I am not sure why GISHWHES is obsessed with kale, except that kale is truly wonderful and tasty if you cook it right. I think this one is pretty good.
Our friend Mary has, this year, become the Great Kale Whisperer, and has been providing bags and bags of kale to any takers. Now that I know you can freeze kale, I’ve stocked up, but this recipe is rapidly depleting my stash. This is so warming and tasty that the Starks could find comfort in it (and go read or watch Game of Thrones if you want to get the reference. Everyone else is doing it.).
A note on cleaning kale — I wash kale, especially if not from the supermarket (i.e. there may be bugs) in the manner I learned from my friend Linda a few years ago for broccoli — run a sink full of cold water, add a handful of salt, soak veg for about 10 minutes, then drain. The salt shrivels any cling-on creatures, and you’re good to go.
Winter Is Coming Chicken and Kale
2 T olive oil
1 baseball-sized onion, chopped
1/2 t salt
pepper to taste
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 t dried thyme, crushed
16 oz. (1 large) package baby bella mushrooms, washed, de-stemmed*, and broken into 2 or 4 pieces each — breaking mushrooms rather than chopping them seems to make them shrink less, and I like the size better for this dish.
3 cloves garlic, minced (is best to mince fresh, not use jarred, here)
3-4 cups kale, washed, stemmed, and chopped finely
1 t shallot pepper blend
1 tube of prepared polenta (sundried-tomato and garlic is nice for this)
Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet with cover (or large soup pot, if you don’t have a covered skillet). When shiny and hot, add chopped onion, salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent.
Add chicken and stir every few minutes until chicken starts to brown at the edges.
In separate skillet, heat just a sheen of olive oil over medium heat for the polenta. Slice polenta into slightly smaller than 1/2″ rounds, and pan fry. If you heat your polenta through and leave it soft, the juices of the dish will soak into it. My personal preference is to cook it until golden brown on either side, giving it a crunchy edge.
Add thyme, mushrooms, and garlic to large pot, and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms have shrunk and given off most their moisture.
Add kale, sprinkle with shallot pepper and cover, without stirring for 2-3 minutes, until kale has wilted. Then stir, cooking 3-5 minutes more. Turn off heat and cover if polenta isn’t done yet. Serve chicken mixture over polenta.
*If you ever make your own soup stock — veg or meat — it’s useful to throw things like mushroom stems in a container in the freezer to use for stock. The mushroom stems add a nice depth to stock.
(P.S. Thanks to my mother’s friend Barb for being a test cook for this recipe and helping me to improve it!)