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Kale and Brown Rice Gratin - Kathryn
December 19th, 2009
12:52 pm

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Kale and Brown Rice Gratin
So, you looked at the title of that and thought "ugh," right? That sounds exactly like some hippie crap they'd feed you in the 70's while enthusing about the benefits of a macrobiotic diet and frequent colon cleanses. And then they'd give you carob-tofu cheesecake for dessert. I mean, kale AND brown rice? For real?

OK well banish that thought from your head, because this is fucking delicious. I bought it frozen from Beechers, thought it was scrumptious, and attempted to re-create the recipe myself. The first time, it was good enough that one of my dinner guests put back everything else on her plate and just ate three helpings of the gratin. The second time, last night, I took it to a dinner party and everyone raved about it, even the guy who hates kale. In fact that guy took seconds.

This is a great holiday dish, because in addition to being delicious, it also has whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables in it. It's a pretty good antidote to a table that, traditionally, is basically a huge pile of carbs and fat. Not that this is fat free; far from it, though it's not like my creamed onions recipe. But the extra fat doesn't take away the nutrition of the other ingredients, you know.

The two things to be aware of are 1) the brown rice takes forever and a damn day to cook and 2) the kale must be chopped really, really, really fine. This is a time for your good knife and a big cutting board.

Ingredients:
1 large shallot
6 tbsp butter, divided in two
2 cups SHORT GRAIN brown rice
6 cups of whole milk
1 large bunch kale, enough to make 2 cups when finely, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon stock concentrate (chicken or vegetable)
6-8 ounces of extremely sharp cheddar-style cheese; I've used Beecher's Flagship, but you could probably experiment
1/2 cup of bread crumbs

METHOD:
Melt half the butter in a large (LARGE) frying pan, fait-tout, or wide saute pan. I suppose you could use a 4.5 quart or larger saucepan too. Anyway, dice the shallot fine and saute in the butter until it is starting to brown. Add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes over high heat, then add the milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rice is no longer aggressively chewy. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, mustard, and stock concentrate, and return to a simmer. The mixture will still be somewhat spludgy at this point.

Chop the kale extremely, extremely finely, almost as though it were an herb rather than a vegetable. Stir the chopped kale into the rice mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until it goes from dark green through bright green and into a sort of a dull, overcooked-looking green. Kale is not a tender vegetable; it can take it. At this point, the mixture should have absorbed enough liquid that you could scoop it with a slotted spoon without leaving too much liquid behind. Scrape it into an 11x17" baking dish.

Grate the cheese and top the gratin with it. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the cheese; melt the rest of the butter, and drizzle it on top of the bread crumbs. Bake in a hot oven (350, or whatever the other things you're cooking need, it isn't particular) until the cheese is bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned. Serve and eat.

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Comments
 
From:tamidon
Date:December 19th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
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I think I'll give this a try, but i bet it would be great with barley too
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From:kathrynt
Date:December 19th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
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I thought of that, but I worry about the barley releasing enough starch to hold the thing together.
From:phillipalden
Date:December 19th, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
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It sounds good, but I'm also one of those people who hates Kale. But I also hate Brussels Sprouts, and my brother once made them a certain way that were delicious.

I guess there's a lot to be said for the art of cooking. I've seen chefs do amazing things with food.
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From:torrilin
Date:December 19th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
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Huh. Does taking the kale to khaki add something in your opinion? I usually like mine cooked til just at the vivid green stage. Yeah, it still has a bit of shoe leather texture then, but it also can be reheated without ruining.
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From:kathrynt
Date:December 20th, 2009 07:35 am (UTC)
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It's the texture. I was using Very Curly Kale for this, and I wanted it to be soft enough to sort of pack down with everything else, and not have quite so much spine to it.
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From:torrilin
Date:December 20th, 2009 12:29 pm (UTC)
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Ok, so you're going for the more gooey. And in my head, gratins should be about the more crunchy. Different aesthetics :D

(the only gratin I'd normally make is pommes de terre au Dauphanois)
From:sistawendy
Date:December 20th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
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Kale and brown rice gratin sounds delicious to me! But then, carob-tofu cheesecake doesn't sound bad, either.
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From:torreybird
Date:December 20th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC)
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And then they'd give you carob-tofu cheesecake for dessert.

*snork* I had no idea that you knew my parents in the 70s! I had exactly the reaction you described after reading the title, and I'd probably really like this dish despite myself. It's very similar to what my folks continue to make & call "ricemess."

So Merry K(ale)ricemess to you!
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From:kathrynt
Date:December 20th, 2009 07:37 am (UTC)
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*rimshot*

it's so good, seriously. It's nutty, and savory with a slightly sweet tint to it, and the kale just makes it taste bountiful.
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From:kathrynt
Date:December 20th, 2009 07:36 am (UTC)
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Short grain is what makes the whole thing cohere.
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From:purlewe
Date:December 20th, 2009 05:11 am (UTC)
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mmm. this does sound yummy. I will put it in my repetoire with a swiss chard au gratin recipe I have. (I sometimes use kale for that recipe as well.. it just depends on what is in my fridge.. do you think this would be a good swis chard sub too?)
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From:kathrynt
Date:December 20th, 2009 07:36 am (UTC)
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The leaves, yes. The stems? Maybe not so much.
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From:purlewe
Date:December 21st, 2009 01:20 am (UTC)
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When I use the stems I usually cook them first making them soft before adding the leaves so that they have a better consistancy.
Thanks for this btw. I always love your recipes.
From:corpsia
Date:January 15th, 2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
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YUM. I've been away from here, obviously, but YUM. I am so trying that. But with some adjustments to all the butter and whole milk. :]
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From:yix
Date:December 16th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
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Ha. I just found this stuff at Whole Foods and searched for a recipe on it and the top search result had a link back here. Clearly I should have just trolled my friends list.
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