Dear SOS: Last winter, my sweetheart and I went to AOC early in the evening on a gloomy, chilly day. We polished off our feast, and although everything was delicious, the cavolo nero was so melt-in-your-mouth tender and elegantly simple that I swear I can still taste it. I've tried to replicate it several times (my family and I have definitely enjoyed my black kale experiments), but none of them has quite come close to Suzanne Goin's version. If she would share her recipe, I'd be eternally grateful.
Dear Jeanne: We enjoyed this recipe for its simplicity and immense flavor. Seasoned with onion, garlic, rosemary and a dried chile de árbol for a little heat, the kale is slowly cooked to the point of caramelization for extra rich color and depth of flavor.
Cavolo nero Total time: About 1 hour Servings: 4 to 6 Note: Adapted from Suzanne Goin of Lucques. Cavolo nero (black kale) is also known as Tuscan, Lacinato and dinosaur kale. 4 bunches cavolo nero, stemmed and cleaned 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise 1/2 sprig rosemary 1 dried chile de árbol 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided, more as needed 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water, optional 1. Blanch the cavolo nero in a large pot of salted, boiling water just until softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the cavolo nero and immediately place it in a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and set aside. 2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan heated over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onions, rosemary and chile de árbol. Gently sauté for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the onions are transparent and just beginning to color, an additional 8 to 10 minutes. 3. Stir the cavolo nero into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 30 to 40 minutes. As it cooks, the cavolo nero will turn a deep dark green, almost black color, and the texture will go from soft to almost a little crisp from caramelizing on the bottom of the pan. This is good and will enhance the flavor. If the cavolo nero becomes too dry, add a little stock or water to moisten the bottom of the pan. Season with the remaining one-fourth teaspoon salt and remove from heat. Serve immediately. Each of 6 servings: 120 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 224 mg. sodium. Got an S.O.S. request? Send it to email@example.com or Culinary SOS, Food, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, city of residence and phone number.