This week was one of those “time to eat various fridge things before they evolve, become sentient, unionize, etc.” weeks.
Saturday night my spouse was off watching the Brooklyn Cyclones, so I poured a glass of wine and eyed the veggie drawer. The wine was dual-purpose: Tasty, and I figured I could dump it on anything in the drawer that required sterilizing.
Before I could even get into the veggie drawer, I had to fight through a thicket of kale. That seemed a solid place to start. I wrestled out the kale, the last of week 1’s garlic scapes, a bag of thyme, and a package of pancetta with a sell-by date from last week. I decided that cooking the pancetta on high heat would kill off any nefarious bacteria. (My last biology class was 18 years ago, and I got a B-. I’m not swearing by any of my theories on bacteria, but on the plus side, they haven’t lead to my death. Yet.)
A few weeks back I sautéed kale with the last bits of a leftover duck confit leg. That worked brilliantly — I highly recommend the duck/kale combo. This week, sadly, I lacked any duck. I did, however, have a bag of mushrooms that I purloined from my friend’s fridge that morning while dropping off her CSA share. I decided to give that a try as the dish’s savory element.
I started with the pancetta, sautéing that till it crisped up, then taking it out of the pan to drain on a paper town. Next I put in the mushrooms and a glug of olive oil. After a few minutes, I sprinkled them with sea salt and thyme. Five minutes or so after they went in the pan, the mushrooms came out to sit in a bowl. In went the kale, with a slosh of white wine to deglaze the pan and then some chicken stock to braise the greens in.
While the kale braised, I pulled out another pan and the last of my week 2 eggs. If I knew how to poach eggs, I would have poached the egg, but all my poaching experiments have ended in tears and something more like egg-drop soup than an honest-to-God intact poached egg. So I fried the egg instead, leaving it sunny-side-up and runny.
After the kale had been braising for 10 minutes or so, while the egg fried, I mixed the mushrooms and pancetta back in. At some point I also ground in some red pepper flakes, though I’m now hazy on exactly when that occurred. (Did I mention the wine? Musella Rose del Drago from Botta di Vino. Pairs well with this dish! And pairs well with the pre-consumption cooking stage of this dish …)
When the egg finished, I piled the kale/mushroom mix on a plate, topped it with the egg, and served it alongside the last of a bag of buttermilk biscuits from the prior week’s run to the Borough Hall Greenmarket.
Verdict: A successful experiment, hooray. The mushrooms went with the kale nicely — it wasn’t as rich as the duck version, but the thyme and wine/stock mix gave the whole thing some depth. Now to figure out a plan for week 3’s kale …
P.S.: I am pretty sure last week’s Anise Hyssop is immortal zombie Anise Hyssop. Neither the spouse nor I like licorice-flavored things, so after nibbling a leaf of the hyssop, I decided to give cooking with it a pass. But I liked the pretty purple flower on it and figured my branch could live out its life as a decorative plant, so I followed Moriah’s advice and “planted” it in a glass of water. Ten days later, this thing is still looking as fresh as the day I brought it home. If it’s still with me next week, I’m giving it a name. – Stacy Cowley