In this dish, I’ve taken a technique we got out of a Thai cookbook, where this was one of many ingredients and didn’t really shine, and made it the main flavor star of a completely different dish. What you do is chop garlic and cilantro together until it makes almost a paste, or alternately, you can grind them together in a mortar and pestle. The paste is then cooked into a dish. I’ve been messing with different iterations of this for about a month, trying to find the perfect way to feature it. I know this is a kind of odd way to feature garlic, but it is SO GOOD.
Here, the garlic and cilantro, along with a bit of onion, flavor ground bison, which is then served in a take on the lettuce cup. I don’t like lettuce, but also, I think the earthiness of bison and kale suit each other. A little dab of something creamy — yogurt, if you can find a not-sweet one, mayo or mayo substitute, even a sour cream, if you have a safe one — brings the flavors out just a little more. This recipe is simple and straightforward, and if you’re anything like me, you might find all your recipes featuring cilantro and garlic for a while.
- 1 bunch lacinto or dinosaur kale
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1/4 cup onion rough chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup rough chopped cilantro (just chop off the top -- stems and leaves)
- 6 cloves garlic small cloves OR use less. Maybe think 2T volume of garlic cloves?
- 1 lb. ground bison
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- creamy condiment, optional (e.g. mayo, sour cream, yogurt)
- Wash kale and shake leaves mostly dry. Microwave for 10 seconds, twice, moving the leaves around between cooking. You just want to soften and barely cook the kale leaves. Chop off the leaves where the leave starts to narrow towards the bottom, leaving the top 4 or so inches for the "cup."
- Over medium heat, heat the oil, adding the onion and salt when it is hot. Stir well.
- Chop the garlic roughly. Add the cilantro. Keep chopping until you have a finely chopped mess where you can barely pick the garlic out of the cilantro. Alternately, you can grind these together in a mortar and pestle, but I like the chopping.
- Add the cilantro-garlic mess to your onion after the onion is translucent and beginning to brown. Stir well and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the bison and chop/stir well, breaking up the meat. Cook until just not pink, but don't overdo it. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. Season lightly with pepper.
- To serve, add the meat mixture and condiment to each kale "cup" and enjoy like a taco. For this recipe, we tried Earth Balance mayo and a Greek yogurt as condiments, and both worked well. Use whatever you like that is safe for you, or enjoy without the condiment.