Saturday, March 19, 2011
Am I the last one to hear about these? Have they entered the mainstream while I wasn't paying attention? Are they being sold at ballparks? Kale chips are really, really good: light, crunchy, oven-dried flakes of flavor. And so easy to make.
I first learned about them from a friend who was visiting the garden. Noticing the rather spindly stand of dinosaur kale (also known as Tuscan kale, lacinato kale, black kale, etc., etc.) she asked if I had ever made chips. When she described the simple process I resolved to try it out.
First, of course, you get your hands on some kale. (Any kind will do.) I gathered a big bunch and washed it carefully, checking for earwigs, tiny slugs, aphids -- the usual routine of the organic gardener.
A brief whirl in the salad spinner takes excess water off fast.
Stripping the leaves from the thick stem and central rib goes fast too. Pick up a leaf, hold the stem end firmly in your right hand (if you are right-handed), grasp the base of the leaf lightly with your left hand, then pull hard with your right hand. The leaf should rip right off. If some of the leaves border the stem all the way down to the base -- common for dinosaur kale -- just peel the two sides back a bit and proceed as described.
Now you have a nice pile of dark green ribbons. Cut them into smaller pieces.
Drizzle some good olive oil over the pile.
Put it all in a brown paper bag and shake gently until all the pieces are lightly coated with oil.
Coat a cookie sheet with oil and arrange the kale pieces in the pan in a single layer.
Grate up some fresh parmesan cheese and sprinkle lightly over the kale pieces.
Put the pan in a slow oven for 10 to 15 minutes. It might take some experimentation to get the temperature and timing right. I followed an online recipe that asked for 15 minutes at 375, which turned out to be too long and too hot. I pulled the pan out after seven minutes because some of the pieces were clearly overcooked and turning an unappetizing color. Nonetheless, they were crackly and delicious.
If you want to hear how crunchy kale chips can be, take a look at this charming video at katheats.com. Kath used a different type of kale and a slightly different approach but the general idea is the same:
"Eat your greens" has a whole new meaning.
UPDATE 5/19/11: OK, today is May 19. I was cleaning out the refrigerator and way at the back of a bottom shelf found the container of kale chips with a few left at the bottom. Two months later they are still crunchy and still tasty. Is this a way to preserve the crop?