Thursday Dinner: Kale, Andouille and Black-Eyed Pea Stew

My love of all things pork belly is well documented on this site. I think it is the most underrated part of the big, simply because our collective love of bacon means that the vast majority of pork belly is cured and smoked.

I can’t get enough fresh pork belly and bristle at the prices that butchers charge (after all, they lose money selling me the belly that they could turn into bacon). The one product from the belly that I have never tried was salt pork. Not that this is some huge discovery — salt-cured pork belly — but it wasn’t until I made this stew by the genius J. Kenji Lopez-Alt that I ever entertained using it.

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It’s like pig concentrate. Salty, fatty, and flavor-rich…why this doesn’t appear in more recipes is beyond me. Of course, I’m also among the group of confused people that don’t understand why Swanson’s doesn’t make pork broth or stock. It’s stupefying, really.

Anyhow, this was a great little midweek stew that was much easier to make than I thought it would be. The peas cook almost to an al dente consistency. Not mushy, but not too firm.

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WHAT WORKED: I was surprised how well the vinegar tied things together. Added a nice little tang that, when mixed with the peppers, reminded me of the vinegar peppers my parents made when I was a kid.

WHAT DIDN’T: I was concerned about the peas being too firm. I don’t know…I might have gone an extra 5 to 10 minutes next time.

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy. A lot of adding ingredients to a pan and stirring. 

BEST FOR: A mid-week hearty dinner.

SERVE WITH: Crusty bread, a dry white wine or a hoppy ale or lager.

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Kale, Andouille and Black-Eyed Pea Stew
Adapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s original at Serious Eats

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz. salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch long, pinky-finger thick lardons
  • 12 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced into rounds, then into halves, and washed thoroughly
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2 stalks celery, diced finely
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cleaned seeded and chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, rough stems removed, leaves chopped roughly, and thoroughly washed
  • 1 lb. bag of dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 qts. low-sodium chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

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Set a Dutch oven over high heat. When you can no longer hold your hand over the bottom of the pan because it is too hot, add the salt pork and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil (less than a tablespoon). Cook pork lardons to render the fat, about 5 minutes, then add the sausage. Lower heat to medium and stir occasionally until the sausage is browned and the salt pork fat is well dissolved, about 10 to 12 minutes.

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Add the leeks, onion, celery, peppers and garlic, tossing to coat in the fat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, cooking until the veggies have browned, softened, and start sweating.

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Add the peas and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the kale in bunches, cover and cook until the beans are tender but firm and the kale is well-wilted, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Adjust the flavors with salt and pepper, then add the vinegar. Serve hot.

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