Smoked Turkey Braised Kale

I’ve been making variations of this recipe for a couple of years. I usually make it when I see kale on sale or I have an extra smoked turkey leg that I need to use up. It’s always ben good to me, but I guess I didn’t realize how much of a crowd pleaser it was until I used it to top some leftover rich and creamy cheese grits as a side for BBQ ribs.

People are always excited about the ribs, but the grits and greens are the star of the show. #bbq

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FYI—This is the first time I’ve put anything from Instagram on this website. Most of my Instagram posts involve the outdoors and complement the content at my other website, C.C. Hikes.

This is a very good dish. I never make it the same way twice, but I follow a basic primer that I think was based off this Bon Appétit Recipe: Braised Kale and Turnips with Smoked Turkey. At least I think so. I thought I had kept a draft of this recipe in my email, but a search only pulls up a link to this webpage.


  • 2 pounds kale, rinsed, thick stems removed, cut into 1″ ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (like Valentina)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prep the kale, onions, and garlic. Add 2 tablespoons each of oil and butter to a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to caramelize. Don’t overcook them or they will turn to mush. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook until the garlic just starts to brown.

Add the chicken stock, vinegar, and hot sauce to the pot and deglaze the bottom.

Add the kale a couple of handfuls at a time and stir until it wilts. You’ll need to trap some moisture with the lid on for a little while to help it break down.

Once the kale is evenly wilted (but not soggy), add the smoked turkey leg to the pot. You may have to cut it in half with a butcher’s knife to get it to fit. Reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid on until the skin and meat pull back from the bone, about 1½–2 hours.

Remove the turkey leg from the pot and allow it to cool a bit. Leave the lid off the pot for the remainder of the cooking time to let the steam escape. You may need to turn up the temperature a tiny bit to maintain a slow simmer. Once you can handle the drumstick safely, remove the meat form the bone. Add the pulled meat to the pot and continue to simmer for a few minutes to allow the meat to further season the greens.

Taste the greens and season accordingly with salt and pepper. It shouldn’t need much. I usually add another teaspoon or so of vinegar and hot sauce. Finally, incorporate the last tablespoon of butter and serve.

I like to serve this over grits, but it would be great over rice, beans, crusty bread, or noodles like ditalini.

Smoked Turkey Braised Kale
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