Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pressure Cooker Braised Kale & Carrots from NomNomPaleo with bonus Collards

I know I have yet to post my thoughts about PaleoFX 2013 and they will come but after hearing Dr. Terry Wahls talk about the power of the nutrients in greens, I've decided that I need to get more of them in my diet.  What better way to do this than to try NomNomPaleo's Pressure Cooker Braised Kale and Carrots? I can't think of any.    

I know I just did a recipe from NomNomPaleo last week and was going to wait to post this, but I made the recipe with collards tonight and was so excited about it, I just couldn't wait a week.  

If you haven't invested in a pressure cooker, think about getting one.  I'm really at the beginning of experimenting with my pressure cooker, but so far, I've been really pleased with how it has performed in my kitchen.  If you use it for broth alone, its worth it, in my opinion.  The pressure cooker I have is  8 quarts and was pretty cheap.  I got it on black Friday at J.C. Penney and it was under $50.  I know its a long time until the black Friday sales, but I'm saying this because you don't need a top of the line cooker to get good results.  

I love it when recipes have only a few ingredients.  

After gathering my ingredients, I prepped my kale.  I already had a bunch of kale de-stemmed washed and dried that I needed to use.  It wasn't quite 10 ounces, so I bought another bunch that I washed and chopped up.  I started to spin it but realized it was about to be covered in liquid, so I didn't think it that important.  Michelle uses bagged.  I couldn't find bagged that I was willing to pay for, so I did a little preparation.  I didn't count this time in the official Paleo Review stopwatch preparation time.  

After preparing the kale, I chopped the carrots into 1/2" pieces and sliced the onions.  

And then I chopped up the garlic.  

I didn't have any ghee, so I used grass-fed butter instead.  I heated it over medium high heat and then added the vegetables except for the garlic.  Per the recipe instructions, I sauteed the veggies until they were softened and then added the garlic.  

Once the garlic was fragrant, I poured in the chicken broth and started adding the kale.  I mixed the kale into the onions and carrots as I added it so it would wilt.  

I made sure not to over fill the pressure cooker.  My wooden spoon is at my cooker's maximum fill line.  Make sure to follow the instructions for your pressure cooker.  

I put the lid on the pressure cooker and turned the heat to high waiting for my pressure cooker to rock steadily indicating the cooker was a high pressure.  When I started cooking with my pressure cooker I was concerned as to what my pressure regulating rocker should be doing at high pressure.  I experimented and came to the conclusion that the video in this post shows what that looks like for my cooker.  Once it was at high pressure, I set my timer for 8 minutes and turned the heat on my burner down to medium.  Again, you'll need to experiment to see how low you can turn your burner and still have your pressure regulator (if your cooker has one) rock steady.  When the timer went off, I carefully moved the pressure cooker to my sink and ran cold water over the cooker to quickly release the pressure so I could open the lid.  

Here is the dish right after I took the lid off the pressure cooker.

Here it is after a little stir.  

And here is my finished bowl of kale and carrots.  

Dont' forget to add a sprinkle of Aleppo Pepper or crushed chili pepper if you like things a bit spicy.  

Accessibility & Cost of Ingredients: You should be able to find all of the ingredients for this recipe  at your "big box" grocery store pretty inexpensively.  My "big box" grocery store usually has bagged pre-washed kale at $2.50/ 16 ounce bag.  The day I was at the store, they didn't have any and the produce worker told me that there was a "shortage" of bagged kale.  Odd.  They had plenty of whole kale for 98 cents a bunch.  I looked at Whole Foods,  and they had a large pre-washed bagged organic kale and it was $9.99.  I wrote down the weight of the bag on my shopping list and then threw my list away.  It was comparable in size to the bags at my big box store.  I just can't stomach paying $9.99 for kale.  

Preparation & Cooking Time:  The preparation time from start to putting the lid on the pressure cooker was 19.5 minutes.  Michelle uses bagged kale.  I had some kale that I had already washed, de-stemmed and cut up that I needed to use.  I augmented that with another bunch I bought to bring me up to the 10 ounces the recipe calls for.  I didn't include my preparation time for the kale because Michelle uses bagged and that wouldn't be fair.  If you are going to wash, spin, and cut up your own kale, add 5 minutes to the  preparation time.  You cook the kale at high pressure for 8 minutes but you have to wait for the cooker to come to pressure.  My total preparation time and cooking time was 30 minutes.  

Clean up:  Clean up was super easy for this recipe.  I hand washed my pressure cooker making sure clean all of the valves and the rubber gasket.  Follow your pressure cooker's instructions for cleaning.  Other than my wooden spoon and pressure cooker, I put everything else in the dishwasher.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs up!  The kale was tender and had a nice buttery garlic flavor.  I tried the it with and without balsamic vinegar.  I don't think my balsamic vinegar is "aged" as the recipe calls for.  The vinegar adds a bit of sweetness to the overall flavor.  I think it tasted great without the vinegar.  What about the stems?  They were completely tender and edible.  Awesome!  

Perfect tender stems!
While I did make this dish before PaleoFX, after hearing about the power of greens and how simple, quick and tasty this recipe was, it will be a standard side in my house.  

Bonus:  Can you do this with Collard Greens? YES!!!

I made this recipe shortly after making the Paleo Comfort Foods Collard Greens.  I immediately thought that using the pressure cooker would be a great way to cook collard greens and decided to give it a try.  The next day I saw a post at NomNomPaleo that she is working on a collard green pressure cooker recipe.  Great minds.  She gives some broad stroke instructions on how she's preparing them, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and just give it a try.  In the pictures on her post, she's using fresh greens.  If you have them, do it.  I decided to give using bagged collard greens to push the convenience factor a bit.  A 16 ounce bag of washed and chopped up collard greens at my big box grocery store is $2.50.  I usually have to pick the stems out of these bags, but after my kale experience above, I'm not afraid of the stems as I know the pressure cooker will take care of them.  

I basically followed NomNomPaleo's Kale & Carrots recipe, but substituted 2 pieces of bacon for the ghee and added 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms.  Why mushrooms?  Why not, I say.  I had them around and it seemed like a good idea.  

I heated my pressure cooker on medium high and added 2 slices of bacon sliced into 1/2 inch pieces.  I cooked the bacon until it browned and rendered its fat.  I then added the carrots, onions, mushrooms and garlic.  I forgot to hold off on the garlic, but it turned out fine.  I sautéed the vegetables until they had softened.  And then I added 10 ounces of collard greens and the homemade chicken broth.  

After 8 minutes under high pressure, here are my collard greens.  I decided against adding the vinegar or pepper.  

Oh my goodness!  These collard greens were awesome!  Scrumptious!  Thumbs high up!  The bacon adds a little smokiness to the flavor and really they had a hint of sweetness.  I still give the Paleo Comfort Foods recipe an edge over these for depth of flavor, but for 30 minutes of preparation time, these collards will be a regular side dish just like the kale.  


I can't wait to see what twist Michelle will put on her collard's recipe in development.  I'll surely try it when she publishes it!