I’ve been thinking about this dish ever since my son’s girlfriend, Theresa, ordered it at ABC Kitchen last Friday, when we met for lunch. It’s like everything else I’ve tasted on that menu: impeccable quality ingredients, expertly and simply prepared, memorable flavors. It’s the kind of food I want to make and teach. Simple, honest food, exploding with flavor. I’m sure I haven’t duplicated it exactly as it is done by the ABC’s talented Chef de Cuisine, Dan Kluger, (under the direction of owner and Exectutive Chef Jean-George Vongerichten), but I have to say that this batch I made for breakfast this morning, was pretty darn, (I don’t really use this word in real life. In real life, in my own kitchen, I might say, “freakin”), close. Close enough that it had me muttering to myself while I scarfed it down. It’s kale and some mixed field greens braised in sherry vinegar. And then there is the bacon, in this case, turkey bacon, that I first got all crispy in a skillet of warmed olive oil. If you use regular pork bacon, or pancetta, you won’t need the olive oil, but the turkey stuff does not have the benefit of it’s own yummy fat content, so you’ve got to add some to get it going on the road to crisp-ville.
This meal satisfies so many of my needs, I want to marry it. Hearty, filling, gluten-and-grain-free, heart-healthy, a way to eat eggs without missing bread, and just plain delicious. So few ingredients, most of which I can find already on hand. There’s some kale and spring mix in my fridge that is about to become inedible if I don’t use it TODAY; the eggs; there’s sherry vinegar, which I always have on hand; some form of bacon in the freezer, and olive oil.
After the bacon is crisped, I deglazed the pan, scraping up the heavenly brown bits, with some sherry vinegar and added the washed and roughly chopped greens to the pan, with a pinch of salt.
Here’s how the rest of it went: Let the steam from the vinegar and the little bit of water hanging on to the greens, wilt them, turning them often for about 5 minutes or until the desired tenderness is achieved. In a separate pan, fry two eggs so that the yolk is cooked but still runny. Go ahead and use a non-stick pan here if you have one (my only concession to non-stick is for fried eggs), but as you can see by the looks of my eggs, I don’t own one. I have to get my little Le Creuset skillet nice and hot, warm some olive oil and butter in it, and then gently lay my eggs down in the hot oil and pray they don’t stick. I use a spoon to baste the eggs with the extra hot fat in the pan, to finish cooking the top of the yolk, so I don’t have to risk flipping it over easy.
I put the greens on a nice plate, which I deserve, even if I am eating alone with the dogs watching me.
And the moment of truth comes when you pierce the yolk and let it mingle with the bite of the vinegar, the smokey goodness of the bacon, and the earthy wiltedness of the greens.
I hope to go back to ABC Kitchen again soon. Just down the block from my husband’s office. I want to try everything on the menu. But until then, I know I can have this for breakfast, lunch or supper and be very pleased with myself.
Vinegar Braised Greens with Bacon and Fried Egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 cups rough chopped Kale, cleaned and wet
2 cup mixed field greens or spring mix
2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
4 slices turkey bacon, pork bacon or 2/3 cup diced pancetta – cut to 1/4 inch dice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Warm a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Heat one tablespoon olive oil and then add diced bacon to the pan, cooking it until it’s crispy. About 4-5 minutes. Deglaze pan with sherry vinegar, scraping up the brown bits and glaze on the pan.
2. Add the greens to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Turn the greens often to get them coated with the liquid in the pan. Cook until wilted and desired tenderness is achieved. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Heat skillet for the eggs. If using a non-stick skillet, add a 1/2 teaspoon of butter, oil or spray with cooking spray to wet the pan a bit. Crack eggs into the pan and fry then on one side only, cooking it to the point that it is done, but the yolk will still be runny. If using a regular pan without non-stick coating, heat pan first, then add 1 tablespoon oil, one tablespoon butter and heat the fat thoroughly before adding cracked raw eggs. Cook as directed above. You can use the fat in the pan to baste over the egg yolk and help heat it through without cooking too much. Remember, you want that yoke to be warm, but still runny.
4. Split the greens between two plates, and top off with fried eggs, two to a serving. Season eggs with salt and freshly ground pepper.