My father and grandfather, both no longer here, loved nothing better than a serious steak dinner at their favorite steakhouse, Peter Lugar's, in New York City. If there was something to celebrate, an out-of-town guest to impress or the desire to indulge an extravagant comfort-food craving, there was one clear choice.
Ordering was easy: a starter of thickly sliced tomatoes and onions with the house dressing, which was also the house steak sauce (think of Worcestershire sauce disguised as a thick dressing), and possibly a wedge salad with bacon and blue cheese. To follow, there was a T-bone steak, sliced but with the bone served up for nibbling, with fried potatoes and creamed spinach. And after belts had been loosened, perhaps a piece of key lime pie.
I think that for most of us, to like creamed spinach is to love creamed spinach. You have to go all in if you go at all. And I love creamed spinach.
But because envelopes need the occasional pushing, I recently decided to cream up some kale with a generous amount of cream and Parmesan cheese in memory of my dad and grandpa. I know that in some circles kale is considered the king of the greens, and in others it's considered "over." I don't belong to either camp, but I do love cooking with kale.
It has similar nutritional perks to spinach (not that I am selling this particular recipe as healthy), and holds up to heat with more presence. If you want, you can use baby kale in this recipe, which isn't as tough as fully grown kale, and has no thick ribs to remove, which makes the prep easier.
This begs to be served up next to a roast chicken, a piece of seared or roasted fish, or, in the most perfect of all worlds, a juicy T-bone steak.
CREAMED KALE WITH PARMESAN
Serves 4 to 6
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 ½ pounds kale
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
If you are using mature kale, trim the tough middle rib from the leaves, and roughly chop the leaves. If you are using baby kale, roughly chop that. Rinse them in a colander. Add the kale to the boiling water and boil for 4 to 5 minutes, until the kale is fairly tender. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water, and then use your hands to squeeze as much water as you can out of the kale.
Place the cream in the pot you used to cook the kale. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then lower the heat to medium and continue to simmer until reduced by about 1/2, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Add the blanched kale and simmer, stirring often, until the cream sauce is further reduced and coats the kale, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan until the cheese is melted and everything is well blended.
Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot.
Nutrition information per serving: 272 calories; 223 calories from fat; 25 g fat (15 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 88 mg cholesterol; 332 mg sodium; 9 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 6 g protein.