Braised Kale and Grits with a Fried Egg

Instant grits have their place – they’re tasty when loaded up with lots of cheese, butter, cream, or all of the above – but you don’t need to go overboard with good grits. They have a beautiful texture and nutty flavor on their own.

My favorite grits are from Anson Mills. Unfortunately, they can be hard to find, and expensive once you find them. I tried to order them from the website one time and the shipping cost was through the roof!

I was super excited when I found that Trader Joe’s started carrying Stone Ground White Grits. While they’re certainly not as good as Anson Mills, they’re a vast improvement over the instant variety found in most stores. The package directions say to cook them for about 30 minutes, but I slow cooked them for almost two hours like I do with the Anson Mills grits. I think their texture and flavor only improves with time.

Instead of the standard shrimp route, I topped the grits with braised kale and a fried egg. Braised kale has become my favorite winter side dish, so I tried to squeeze it in one more time before spring veggies arrive.

The idea for the kale came from Marco Canora’s recipe for Stewed Black Cabbage in his book Salt to Taste. He cooks the kale with a sofrito of onion, carrot, and celery, and adds chickpeas and tomato to form hearty stew to serve over polenta. I omitted the chickpeas and tomato for this application, and used lots of sliced garlic. The earthy kale became a little sweet, and the leaves really held up to the slow cooking. I finished them with a dash of cider vinegar because I loved the acidic punch in the collard greens at Highland Kitchen.

It seems I’ve been topping all of my meals with some kind of egg recently. But what can I say – I love ’em! The crispy egg provided the perfect textural contrast to the kale and grits in this recipe.

Braised Kale and Grits with a Fried Egg
Braised Kale adapted from recipe by Marco Canora
Serves 2, with some leftover grits and kale

  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 4 cups water (roughly)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Freshly grated asiago cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 2 bunches Lacinato kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, finely minced
  • 1/6 cup carrot, finely minced
  • 1/6 cup celery, finely minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs

Bring 2 cups of water, the butter, and a large pinch of salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the grits, stirring to avoid any clumps, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

Keep cooking over low heat and stirring, adding water and/or milk when they start to get dry. I added about another two cups of water and a half cup of milk total. Taste for seasoning and texture along the way. I cooked them for a total of about two hours, but you could certainly cook for less time. I also grated in some freshly grated asiago cheese at the very end.

While the grits are cooking, heat some olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the minced onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook until they’re soft and starting to color, about 15 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until just soft.

Add the kale and coat with the olive oil and sofrito. Turn the heat down to low and cover. I cooked the kale on low for an hour, but you could raise the heat slightly and cook for less time. (I’ve cooked this same dish in 30 minutes.) Add a little bit of water if the kale gets too dry, and test for doneness and seasoning along the way. When the kale is soft, add the cider vinegar.

When the grits and kale are cooked, start frying the eggs. We used Jose Andres’ fried egg method from his book Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. I’m going to do a separate post on the fried eggs because they come out perfectly every time!

To serve, spread a layer of grits on a plate, then add a layer of kale, and top with the fried egg. Top with freshly ground black pepper and more asiago, if desired.

Are there any dishes you’re trying to squeeze in before the arrival of spring veggies?

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