This week, man. Exactly seven days ago I woke to find that my car had been towed. On Sunday night Aaron’s car started to sound like a Harley, and I spent Monday, my day off, getting estimates on how much it would cost to fix his fifteen-year-old Honda. Aaron’s work schedule changed unexpectedly, so we didn’t see each other much more than roommates would this week. I’ve been fighting this lingering sickness that feels like a head cold and won’t respond to my usual treatment of sleeping it out and drinking lots of tea. I had to attempt the same recipe three times. And last night, as I was crawling into bed after a long shift, I broke a glass of water and gave myself a nasty gash on my foot that left me googling “how to tell if you need stitches” at one in the morning.
The bad news is that Aaron’s car costs more than it’s worth to repair, and it cost us half a student loan payment to get my car out of impound. The good news is that according to WebMD I don’t need stitches, it’s Friday, and the third time is a charm. I get to share manchego kale with you.
This manchego kale is inspired by a dish of the same name from Libertine here in Minneapolis. It’s sexy kale, kale that’s wearing stilletos and winged eyeliner. It’s the kale that you meet at a bar and eventually find yourself bringing home to your kale-hating mother, who will then fall under kale’s charms. This is serious kale. I love a kale salad as much as the next girl, but sometimes kale just needs to shake off the “wholesome” thing and live a little dangerously. And with the holidays coming, it’s a perfect way to sneak in some kale for veg-phobic family members.
Happy Friday. I’m celebrating the end of this week with kale.
I use red russian kale here, which is what I had on hand. You could easily use other types of kale, but I would stay away from curly kale. I’m just not sure it would collapse enough. Taleggio is a strong cheese, and the odor might turn you off initially. However, heat tames it, and it becomes melty, sweet, and nutty. Don’t be scared. Finally, there’s different types of manchego out there, with different ages. I had best luck with younger manchego over older, which has the additional benefit of being cheaper. Yay!
8 ounces red russian kale, about 10 leaves, stemmed, sliced, and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon AP flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ounce taleggio cheese, sliced
1 ounce manchego cheese, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a skillet, preferably cast iron, melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the kale. If the kale is freshly washed, there should be enough water clinging to the leaves to help it steam a bit. If not, add a splash of water to the pan. Let the kale cook down, stirring occasionally.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the second tablespoon of butter. At the same time, begin to gently warm the milk in a small saucepan.
When the butter is melted begin to whisk in the flour. Whisk as close to constantly as you are able, making sure that all the flour is incorporated into the butter- it likes to hide on the edges of the pot. The butter and flour will incorporate, making a roux, and start to darken, going from beige to amber.
Add the vinegar and garlic to kale, and season with salt to taste. The kale should be silky and collapsing upon itself. Here you’ll want to adjust the heat- turning it down if the pan is dry, and turning it up if the pan still has a bit of liquid in it. We want to eventually simmer all the liquid out.
When the roux is well-incorporated, smooth, and has taken on a nice color, slowly stir in the warmed milk, starting with a splash. The milk may bubble up- that’s okay. Just keep whisking until everything is smooth. Add the milk in two more additions, keeping whisking until all the milk is added.
Let the sauce simmer together, stirring occasionally for two or so minutes. Add in the nutmeg and pepper, and add salt to taste. Check the consistency of the sauce- when you dip a metal spoon in the sauce you should be able to draw a line down the middle with your finger and have the line stay. Once the sauce is at the right consistency, whisk in the taleggio. Adjust again for taste.
If you have not made your kale in a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe container, transfer the kale to an oven safe container now. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the grated manchego. Pour over your sauce, and immediately top with the remaining manchego. Pop into your preheated oven.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Enjoy with abandon.