As Carla Hall would discover later on in life, soul food was more than what she ate as a child at her grandmother’s house in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the passed-down genealogy of her ancestors, slaves brought to the United States, and Americans fighting for their civil rights.
The former co-host of ABC’s The Chew began the research for her new book “Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration,” by taking a road trip through the American South, connecting with black cooks and families. The recipes she gathered along the way inspired her to rethink her favorite soul food dishes.
For this recipe, Hall took the traditional creamed spinach instructions and replaced the central ingredient with sturdier, more textured kale leaves. Give the recipe a try this holiday season!
Yield: 8 servings
2 cups heavy cream
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 bunches Tuscan kale (about 2 pounds), tough stems removed, leaves cut into 1/4-inch slices
Reduce the heavy cream: Bring the cream to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced to 11/2 cups. Add the garlic, chili flakes, nutmeg, half the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Prepare the greens: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium and add the greens, a handful at a time, stirring to wilt after each addition. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Remove excess water: Uncover and grab a bunch of the greens with tongs to squeeze out any excess water.
Combine and serve: Transfer to the cream mixture. Repeat with the remaining greens. Stir well to coat with the cream mixture. Serve hot.