Yes, we are on a kale kick around here. It’s inexpensive; it’s healthy; it’s easy to prepare; and it’s delicious! It’s hard to go wrong with this stuff. For this meal, I happened to have on hand some fresh Gulf shrimp.
1.5 pounds smoked pork neck bones (Or have some meat stock already on hand.)
1/2 – 3/4 pound shrimp; peeled and deveined
1 large red onion (Use whatever onion you have if you don’t have a red one.)
1 large red sweet pepper; cleaned of seeds and ribs (cut into a dice)
5 cloves garlic; minced
1 bunch fresh kale; stripped of thick stems and washed well
Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp sugar
Louisiana Hot Sauce (I like Crystal.)
1 lb. fresh asparagus (Or substitute another favorite green vegetable.)
olive oil for cooking
I started the neck bones early in the day in a slow cooker set on low. Or you may cook on the stove top two hours before meal time or even the night before. The idea is to cook the bones in water to make a pork stock. It’s hard to beat this. But if you prefer to purchase canned chicken or beef stock, you’ll probably have just as much fun anyway. So suit yourself on this.
Break the asparagus spears by bending until they snap. Place the spears in a microwave proof dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of water; then sprinkle the spears with Old Bay Seasoning. Cover the dish with a lid or with plastic wrap.
Cut the remaining stalks into 1/2″ pieces; starting at the broken end and working toward the thick end. When you feel resistance to the knife stop there and discard the tough ends. Put the cut pieces in a small sauce pan with a an inch of water and cover with a lid. These will only take about 5 minutes to cook, so set aside until later.
Place the cleaned shrimp in a collapsible steamer basket, and sprinkle liberally with Old Bay Seasoning; or with a seasoning combination of your choice. Set aside. You’ll steam these at the very end.
For the kale, use a 4-quart dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Cut the onions in half; then into thirds; then slice thinly. Add olive to the pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a piece of onion is thrown in, add the onions and stir to break apart.
Add the peppers; then the garlic. Continue stirring to break up the pieces of onions and to coat all with the cooking oil. Stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the stock to the pot, and stir to break loose any brown parts sticking to the bottom.
Add half the kale to the pot; then sprinkle with a generous tsp or two of the Old Bay Seasoning and one teaspoon of sugar. Top with the rest of the kale. Shake a good shot of Louisiana Hot Sauce on top. Cover and reduce heat.
After 10 minutes or so, use tongs or a long spoon to turn the mixture in the pot and blend well. Try to bring the onions and peppers from the bottom to the top; then stir to mix. Cover and continue cooking; check every few minutes for done-ness.
When the kale is nearly done, fire up the asparagus pieces in the sauce pan, and place the spears in the microwave. Our microwave has a vegetable setting that works great. If yours doesn’t, you can toss the spears in with the cut pieces a minute or two before serving. It doesn’t take long at all to cook tender asparagus spears.
Just as you begin cooking the asparagus, place the steamer basket of shrimp on top of the kale mixture in the bigger cook pot. Cover and steam gently. They’ll be done in 2 to 4 minutes. When they turn white, test one, they’re probably done. (Cook’s prerogative)
Try to avoid over cooking the shrimp and the asparagus. Pull all from the heat, and serve up on dinner plates.
If you must have bread, you might sprinkle a few croutons on the plate, or a spoonful of grits.