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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Beer-Braised Potatoes and Kale

Because beer is better!  (No, that's not right.  Vodka is better, but that has nothing to do with this post.)

Want to hear a secret?  I hate holidays.  Yep, I do.  Pretty much all of them.  I hate the contrived way they make you feel obligated to celebrate meaningless occasions, like President's Day or Flag Day.  And I get that most holidays started out with meaning and purpose, to celebrate the life and accomplishments of some person or another.  But why do I have to wear green on March 17?  Why is everyone drinking so much beer?  Why don't these people admit to being Irish on any other day???

My family has a teensy-weensy bit of Irish in our ancestry, but I don't really identify with it.  I really don't care for Celtic music, I'm not a red-head (although I do have some pretty adorable freckles), I don't know a whole lot about Irish culture, except that their "cuisine" leaves much to be desired, and I'm not a big fan of beer (although I do like drinking and I have quite the temper).  This is all a round-about way of me saying that I wasn't originally going to make a wannabe Irish dish for St. Patrick's day, but as it turns out, I had half a bag of potatoes and a good idea.  So here it is.

This is my first attempt at braising, a technique of cooking ingredients (in this case, potatoes) in simmering liquid.  And I'm pretty sure I did it wrong, but whatever.  It was still delicious.  You could probably use any kind of beer you prefer, I just picked up some Guinness for "authenticity" [NOT VEGAN!!! Check comments below.].  And I chose kale over cabbage because I wanted that bright green color.   You know, for the simplicity of this recipe, it was really pretty amazing.  It's a side dish, not a main course, so I would say it yields about 4-5 servings.  I had mine with Tofurkey beer brats.  Aw yeah, those are the whip.

1 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 lbs red-skinned potatoes, quartered (or cut smaller if the potatoes are kind of big)
1/2 cup vegan stout, or beer of choice
2 2/1 cups veg broth
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly torn
Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 min, until the onions are soft.  Add the potatoes and arrange them so that they are in one layer and most of them are touching the bottom of the pan, cut side sown.

  Cook for about 5 min without stirring.  Pour in the beer and the veg broth, and stir in the brown sugar.  Increase heat to bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 min.  (Be sure to keep the heat on low and not low-ish.  I was trying to multi-task and had the heat up too high, resulting in mushy potatoes.  Don't let this happen to you!)
After 10 min, add the kale, stirring to cover the leave with the liquid in the pot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook covered for about 5 min or until leaves are bright green and potatoes are cooked through.
Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and veggies from pan and place in a serving dish.  Cover to keep warm.  *With the remaining liquid, you have two choices for a sauce:  You can allow it to boil down, making sort of a glaze to drizzle over the potatoes, or you can add a thickener, such as flour or cornstarch, to make like a gravy.  I opted to reduce the liquid, and it went a little something like this...

Return pot to stove and increase heat to high to allow liquid to boil.  Continue boiling until liquid has reduced and thickened.  This took me almost 10 min.  I added pepper to the pot, but not salt, since reducing the liquid really concentrates the flavor of whatever you had put in there originally.  Since there was already plenty of salt from the veg broth, I didn't add any more.  When liquid has thickened, you can use it to drizzle over individual servings of potatoes.

Yield 4-5 servings.


  1. Just to let you know, Guinness is not vegan... http://www.barnivore.com/beer/26/Guinness

    1. Thank you, Vanessa, you are correct. I rarely drink beer, so it was something I hadn't looked into. Here's an article explaining why Guiness isn't vegan (or vegetarian, even) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/guinness-fish-bladder_n_2878165.html And thanks for the barnivore link, there are plenty of veg-friendly options on that site!