Friday, March 26, 2010

baked kale chips

chips. made of kale.

I could never get into kale. Heck, I’ve long been timid about greens in general — the delicate ones like baby spinach and arugula were easy but as soon as things got a little heavier, I got nervous. When I finally found a respectable green I found palatable — Swiss chard, which I think of as the green for spinach people — I went to town with it: a tart, a spaghetti dish and then gratin. But I still couldn’t warm to kale. Because I didn’t like the way it tasted. And I don’t care if something is chock-full of vitamin A, C and calcium, I don’t care if it makes you live longer or feel stronger or fixes the budget deficit, I’ve got this hang-up wherein I won’t eat food if it doesn’t taste good to me. (My offspring is a little less particular, it seems.) And kale just didn’t.

sorry-looking kale

But in February, I began seeing a recipe for baked kale chips flitting about the internet. I’m not sure where it started (or re-started, as I see folks have actually been making this for years), but I’m guessing with a Dan Barber recipe in Bon Appetit that month. His version used whole leaves and arranged them daintily in a pitcher; the more rustic version I’d seen on blogs (and hooray for that) was simple to de-stem the kale, cut or tear it up, toss it with a bit of oil and bake it until crisp.

kale, ready to bake

Yes, crisp. I would never lie to you when it comes to chips, as I take crackly crunch quite seriously. Baking kale transforms the qualities I always loathed in kale — the dense bitterness — into something impossibly light, with a nice depth of flavor from the oil and salt. This isn’t a stewy stick-to-your ribs kale braise and it is not something you eat because you ought to, it’s something you’d eat because you like it. Revolutionary stuff, people.

kale, ready to bake into chips. really.

[Psst. And possibly even more so if you do this to it (hat tip):]

kale-dusted popcorn

This week: We have flown the coop! We’re splashing in the Caribbean! Thus, comment responses will be slow and spotty. But new posts will appear, as if by magic, as I take you through my cooking backlog. Fun for everyone!

One year ago: Bialys
Two years ago: Swiss Easter Rice Tart
Three years ago: Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Baked Kale Chips
Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places

1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Lacinato or “Dinosaur” Kale but I understand that the curlier stuff works, too, possibly even better)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.

Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle (well, actually the “pestle” was MIA so I used the handle of an OXO reamer, not that anyone asked) and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!


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