Miso, a classic Japanese seasoning, adds savoury complexity to a whole range of dishes. It's also very versatile; using it creatively can inject umami-laced depth to recipes, without skewing them towards Asian flavours. The miso in this dish cooks out as the cavolo nero (or use kale*) braises and melds with the other flavours, giving the dish intense, indefinable character. Serve this with poultry, robust fish on the bone, veal, or alongside a plain risotto with parmigiano reggiano and a squeeze of lemon.
5 heads cavolo nero (or use kale), tough stalks discarded
200g speck, diced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
400ml chicken stock
2 tbsp miso paste
1 tsp chilli flakes
1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and blanch the cavolo nero for two minutes. Drain well.
2. In a wide-based saucepan, add the speck and fry over medium heat to render out the fat a little.
3. Add the garlic and fry in the fat from the speck until fragrant, about three minutes.
4. Add the cavolo nero, stock, miso and chilli flakes and cook, covered, over low heat for 15-20 minutes until tender.
1. You can blanch the cavolo nero ahead of time, just refresh in iced water to keep it vibrant.
2. You could use smoky bacon, pancetta or even crumbled pork sausage instead of speck.
3. *Instead of cavolo nero you could use kale or silverbeet; the cooking time will just vary.