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Brown Butter Creamed Winter Greens
Linton Hopkins does not consider the vegetable plate to be a compromise crafted for calorie parsers. His take on a vegetable plate is a lusty casserole, a buttery jumble of—depending on the season—turnips, new potatoes, beets, and asparagus tips. Hopkins especially loves root vegetables and winter greens, lavishing them with attention and, in this case, brown butter and béchamel.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
6 ounces slab bacon, rind trimmed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 1/2 pounds mixed baby winter greens (such as collards, mustard greens, and kale), steamed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or to taste
To make the béchamel:
Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add the shallot, bay leaf, and peppercorns, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press parchment paper or plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce and set aside.
To make the greens: Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide sticks. Cook these lardoons in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown but not crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then pour off the fat from the pot and wipe it clean. Heat the butter in the pot over medium-low heat until browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the greens one handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before adding the next. Stir in the béchamel sauce, cream, garlic, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook stirring, until the greens are tender and coated with sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in the lardoons and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.