When it’s winter in Alaska, the good news is that it’s greens weather in California and the Pacific Northwest. Since vegetables in Alaskan markets come from outside the state, we share our West Coast neighbors’ bounty of greens. (In summer, we happily grow our own.) “Braising” is a method of cooking in which meat or vegetables are browned in fat and then simmered in liquid until done. When raw, greens like kales and beets are usually tough and fibrous. Braising turns them soft and tender. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For the last couple months, our CSA box from Full Circle Farm has been full of greens: lacinato kale (cavolo nero), beet greens, curly endive, Swiss chard, radicchio, and lettuces. My favorite is the bag of mixed baby “braising greens” that Full Circle sometimes offers. The bag usually includes 3 kinds of baby kale, Swiss chard, and mustard greens.
Last week I wanted braised greens for dinner, so dug out bunches of lacinato and purple kales, plus a bag of baby braising greens. To balance the slightly bitter greens, I added onions and red peppers for sweetness, and finished the dish with chunks of chicken and plenty of herbs.
The final dish was flavorful and filling; a feast for the eyes and senses. The kale’s curly edges trapped the herbs and cooking juices, and bathed our mouths with flavor.
Leftovers: I made more Braised Chicken, Peppers, and Greens than the two of us could eat at one sitting. With the leftovers, I put together a wonderful soup by adding stock, beans, and seasonings. The soup took 5 minutes of mixing and 30 minutes of simmering; a perfect meal for a busy day.
Braised Chicken,Peppers, and Greens (Κοτόπουλο, Πιπεριές και Χόρτα)
Serves 4 – 6
I prefer serving this on its own, but it is also good over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. For vegans or those who are fasting, this tastes great if you leave the chicken out or substitute white beans for the chicken. You can also substitute Italian sausage for the chicken. Adjust the amount of Aleppo or crushed red pepper depending on how spicy you like your food. If I know I’ll have leftovers, I make this using tough greens like kale, because they don’t fall apart or turn mushy when reheated.
1 1/2 pounds braising greens, such as kales, beet greens, chard, broccoli raab, dandelion (about 3 bunches or 3/4 pound cleaned greens)
1 pound onions (1 - 2 large)
2 red bell peppers
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4 thighs) or 1 pound leftover chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 Tbsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 – 2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Wash the greens and remove the tough stems. Cut into 1 – 2” pieces. Cut the onions into 1 – 2” chunks. Clean and seed the bell peppers, and cut into 1 – 2” chunks. Cut the chicken thighs (or leftover chicken) into 1 – 2” chunks, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
Sauté the onions and bell pepper, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until the onions soften and are translucent. Stir in the chicken, garlic, fennel seeds, and Aleppo pepper. If using raw chicken, cook just until the chicken starts to brown; if using leftover chicken, cook for one minute. Stir in the cleaned greens, and cook just until the greens start to wilt. Stir in the wine and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender. Stir the pot from time to time as it simmers to prevent the greens from sticking. This takes 15 – 30 minutes depending on the size and age of the greens; the only way to tell whether braising greens are properly tender is to taste them. When the greens are done, taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
Serve immediately with crusty bread and a crisp green salad.
Chicken, Beans, and Greens Soup (Κοτόπουλο, Φασόλια και Χόρτα Σούπα)
4 cups leftover Braised Chicken, Peppers, and Greens
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 – 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
Mix all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
“Braising” is a method of cooking in which meat or vegetables are browned in fat and then simmered in liquid until done. When raw, greens like kales and beets are usually tough and fibrous. Braising turns them soft and tender.