Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish. Set aside.
Heat large skillet over medium heat; cook bacon for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden and lightly crisped. Drain on paper towel–lined plate.
Remove all but 3 tbsp (45 mL) bacon fat from skillet; cook onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in kale and thyme; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until wilted.
In large bowl, stir together cornmeal, lemon zest, salt and pepper; stir in milk, eggs and lemon juice. Fold in bacon, kale mixture and cheese. (To make ahead, cover and refrigerate overnight). Before baking, stir in 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) boiling water. Transfer to prepared baking dish; dot with butter.
Bake for 15 minutes; stir and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until set, golden brown, and tester comes out clean when inserted in centre. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve hot, warm or cold.