Creamed Winter Greens with Bacon Béchamel

See that lovely skillet full of bacon, cream and kale? After taking that photo I set it back on the burner to heat through again and went upstairs to check my email. And answer a few. And work on a story that’s overdue… and yep, I burned the hell out of it. My cast iron skillet has gained another half inch of solid blackness that will take some serious chipping at to remove. Par for the week.

Regarding the snooty name, bacon béchamel sounds far better than bacon sauce, which sounds like something you might pump out of a vat at 7-11. Béchamel is just a hoity-toity name for that white sauce your mom may have made when you were a kid in order to make cheese sauce to pour over your broccoli. It’s just white sauce. Unless you’re a contender in Top Chef, in which case you’d better know your béchamel from your velouté.

Traditionally a basic béchamel is made by whisking milk into a roux (equal parts butter and flour – really, do we even need a fancy name for butter and flour?) and in this case, made with bacon drippings instead of butter. If you feel weird about this, remember that lard – pig fat – has 40% less saturated fat than butter.

It appears that I – who loves to not waste food – have wound up with a surplus of cream and pre-chopped veg left over from our day of soup making on Wednesday, when a bunch of you -and you know who you are- came down to the Cookbook Company to chop, sauté and stir up twenty six batches of soup to photograph for the Soup Sisters Cookbook, a fundraiser for the organization that’s scheduled to release in October. It was a fantastic afternoon with lots of laughs, and we all had the opportunity to do what we love, together, for a great cause. And I got the chance to meet more of you, which is always so awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Half of the 40 photos are done (!) with more of the prepped soup still to photograph and a few left to make, it looks like we’ll actually make our end of the month deadline. Thanks to all who came to chip in at the soup sweatshop.

And now to tackle the contents of the fridge…

Creamed Winter Greens with Bacon Béchamel


February 25, 2012

inspired by this one here - which with its browned butter sounds fantastic too - but I needed to streamline it a little bit, and given the opportunity couldn't not make bacon béchamel to go atop winter greens..

  • Makes: Serves 4-6.


4-6 slices bacon, chopped

2 Tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbsp. minced shallot or onion (optional)

1 bay leaf (optional)

6 black peppercorns (optional)

1 large bunch of winter greens such as kale or beet greens

canola or olive oil or butter, for cooking

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch red chili flakes

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1In a large, heavy skillet, cook the bacon until crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Whisk the flour into the bacon drippings. Whisk in the milk and if you like, the shallot, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, whisking often. Let simmer for a few minutes and then pour it into a bowl to set aside. If you added the flavour bits, you'll need to pour it through a sieve to get rid of them. Wipe out the pan.

2Roughly chop the greens, ditching the tough ribs.

3Heat a drizzle of oil and/or butter in the pan and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add the kale (or other greens) and cook until it starts to wilt; add the garlic, béchamel, cream and chili flakes and stir to coat; cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the greens are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the bacon scattered on top.


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14 comments on “Creamed Winter Greens with Bacon Béchamel

  1. Lisa
    February 25, 2012 at 7:29 am

    A handy dandy tip to know….for those pots that we oops and burn, take a dryer sheet(used is fine) (or 2 depending on the size of pot) and place it over the bottom of the pot. Add a layer of water so that the sheets are covered, and let sit over night. Generally the need to scrap is somewhat miminal.. depending on just how “forgetful” you were. May have to leave it longer and remove the burn by layers. For cast iron pans, boil water and a couple of tablespoons of vinegar often this cleans the pan ….remember to reseason it.
    or if all else fails, get a libation of your choice. some great music and scrub away all worries/frustrations and moods that have piled up in your life!! 🙂

    • JulieVR
      February 25, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Ooooooh – what a great tip! thank you! I haven’t heard that one before. Going to give it a try today!

  2. Vicki
    February 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    My mother-in-law cleans burned pans by boiling water and dish soap in them and loosening the crud with a long handle instrument. I hate to admit that I’ve had to try it and it works. She also removes wallpaper with Fantastic, but wrong blog for that tidbit. Back to food…I NEED to know what cookie recipe you used for those deelish treats on Wednesday. YUM!

  3. Jan @ Family Bites
    February 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    This looks so good! And I can bet it would taste awesome if it was scooped up with bits of crusty bread. Mmmm…

  4. Vicki
    February 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Oh dear JVR, I was afraid of that as they were so decadent. Was hoping they were a more healthy option from One Smart Cookie. Oh well, my taste buds loved them even if my ever expanding arse didn’t. Thanks.

  5. Barb
    February 25, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    What a great idea to come up with for cleaning out the fridge! Except for the burned part. Given the same ingredients I’m sure my dish wouldn’t compare.

  6. Laurie from Burnaby
    February 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I clean burned cast iron pots with the vinegar and water trick, then reseason them.
    What happens with all that soup when so many cooks make it? Do you give left over bits to the food bank?
    What a delicious way to cook up leafy greens! I’m getting sick of the garlic and onion, whether I add feta cheese or mushrooms or both or not. I’ll try this for a change.
    thank you

  7. Kathy
    February 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Hi….can I subscribe to this?…if so, how?

    • JulieVR
      February 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Sigh. You’d think after all these years I’d know how to answer that question. I’ll try to figure it out!

  8. Erica B.
    February 26, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    @Kathy do what the rest of us do-bookmark & check back often 😀 or you can follow Julie at!/dinnerwithjulie or!/dinnerwithjulie 🙂

  9. Stephanie
    February 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    So sad that your dish was burnt in the end 🙁 I love the idea of making a white sauce with bacon drippings instead of butter

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