Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Weekly Vegetable: Spicy Cheesy Kale Chips

Joel and I received a Facebook event invitation from a friend for a potluck dinner dubbed Epic Feast 1, taking place outdoors at a farm in Concord on a Sunday night. (Epic Feast 2, which will be in October, is supposed to really be epic, complete with a whole roasted pig, but the prequel is just a small, friendly potluck.)

Joel made mandel bread (mandelbrodt - Yiddish for almond bread) - a recipe from an aunt's cousin or a cousin's aunt or somebody somewhere on his family tree. He had raved about his amazing mandel bread in the past, but this is the first time I've gotten to try it. It was amazing. I'll post the recipe at a later date if he lets me!

I decided to make use of more of our Week 1 CSA goodies by making kale chips. I've made them once before and they came out great, but that was with curly kale, which seems to be the type featured in most recipes I've seen. I had red Russian kale, though, so I wasn't sure if it would work - I think it's a bit thicker than curly kale, and less...curly.

Since I'm addicted to spiciness, I complemented the kosher salt with a generous pinch (or several) of ghost chili sea salt. I also boosted the heat with a dash of chili-infused oil in addition to the regular olive oil. Since I had some shaved asiago cheese lying around, I sprinkled it on top.

The first batch were kind of fail chips rather than kale chips. Just a bit overdone. Gotta watch these things like a hawk...they go from perfect to fail within seconds. Anyways, this one is a work in progress. People seemed to like the results, but it took me several batches to really get the timing down, and even then, they looked pretty ugly. Pictured below is the first batch, which was the biggest fail.

  • Kale (I used red russian, but curly kale works particularly well)
  • Kosher salt and/or a specialty salt of your choice (I added ghost chili sea salt. Any type of garlic salt would probably be good!)
  • Olive oil
  • Chili-infused oil (Optional)
  • Cheese (Optional. I used shaved asiago because it was in my fridge, but something like shredded parmesan might work better. Asiago cooks kind of strangely, and to get it to a good doneness, you have to let the kale go a bit too long.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F; cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Rip kale leaves off of the stems, wash, and tear these into the desired size. (Think potato chips.) I discard the stems - is there anything you can do with them? They seem so tough.

In a large bowl, drizzle a generous amount of oil(s) on the kale and mix thoroughly so all leaves are coated (like a well-dressed salad - not drowning). Add salt and any additional seasoning you'd like to add, and mix again. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on top.

Set a timer for 8 minutes, but start checking on the chips a few minutes earlier than that. You want to take them out when they're just starting to get crispy around the edges, before they've turned brown all the way through.

By my fourth batch, things were looking up:

Check out the CSA Week 1 intro post to learn more about what was in this week's share.

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