The only good thing about kale, according to a chef friend of mine, is that it makes a good name for a boy.
Having eaten cooked kale only once before, diligently prepared by dear sweet Elspeth, I must admit to being in full agreement with him, with one notable exception: it is great as the base for a fruit and veggie smoothie, probably because it is well disguised by the other vegetable and two fruit, not to mention the knob of fresh ginger which always finds its way into my smoothie recipes. (More about such smoothies in a future column.)
Kale is insanely healthy, loaded as it is with vitamins (A, B1, B2 B3, B6, C, K), manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, alpha linoleic acid, and anti-oxidants. Low in both protein and carbohydrates, it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat.
Unfortunately, it is remarkably unpalatable when cooked, unless you find the right type of kale – black (also known as lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale) – and you prepare it properly.
Dear daughter Robyn, son-in-law Adam and beloved granddaughter Erin, are visiting from America, and Robyn cooked the most delightful meal the other night, determined to prove to me that kale is actually lovely if properly prepared.
And she is right.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
1 bunch black kale: well rinsed, stems removed, and leaves finely chopped. Black kale is the one with slender, thin green leaves, without the frilly edges. If the leaves are frilly-edged and thick, and purple or white, it is not black kale.
4 sirloin steaks: trimmed, seasoned with salt and pepper, and painted with canola oil
2 cloves garlic: peeled and crushed.
4 medium potatoes: suitable for mashing. Peel and quarter the potatoes.
1/2 cup (125ml) beef stock
6 tbsp crème fraîche
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup (125ml) grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper: for seasoning.
Set a medium saucepan of water to boil, and add 1tsp salt.
Add the potatoes, and cook until tender about 10 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan, and add two tbsp canola oil.
Place the sirloin steaks fat side down in the pan, and cook for about four minutes to render the fat.
Remove the steaks and pour off the excess fat.
Return the pan to the heat, and fry the steaks for between two and four minutes on each side, dependent on thickness, and how well you want them done.
Remove the steaks from the pan to a plate, cover with a sheet of foil and two kitchen towels, and allow them to rest for at least five minutes.
Meanwhile, finish off the potatoes. Drain them, then roughly smash them with a fork, stir in four tbsp crème fraîche and two tbsp butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside covered to keep warm.
Add two tbsp canola oil to the steak pan, and reheat.
Add the crushed garlic and a little bit of salt and pepper. cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the kale, and a 1/4 cup of water.
Season with salt and pepper, and cook for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally to release the fond (the residue from frying the steak), until the kale has wilted and the liquid has cooked off.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and stir it in. Place the kale in a bowl, covered to keep warm.
Rinse the pan with a little boiling water and wipe it out.
Return the rested steaks to the pan, and add two tbsp crème fraîche, a sprinkle of pepper and the beef stock.
Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for a minute or two, or until the sauce is slightly reduced.
Add two tbsp butter and cook, spooning the sauce over the steaks for a half to one minute.
Check the sauce seasoning and adjust as required.
Remove the steaks from the pan, and slice diagonally, about 1cm thick.
Divide the cooked kale, smashed potatoes and sliced steak between four plates, and top with the sauce.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes