After seriously miscalculating the amount of kale necessary for a recipe that turned out to be a dud, I found myself with an excess of kale. Way more kale than I would need even to make my favorite kale recipe. What’s a girl to do with so much kale? SCIENCE.
Last Thanksgiving, my sister introduced me to the wonder that are kale chips. You take kale, rip it into bite-sized pieces, toss with salt and olive oil, and bake in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes. They emerge from the oven crispy and addictive—not quite potato chips, but a whole lot closer than you would have expected was possible for kale. (It wasn’t until I had kale chips that I realized that that’s what Veggie Booty tastes like. Kale chips are much better, as well as probably less likely to give you salmonella or weird green dust-covered fingers.)
I might have been satisfied baking up some kale chips and calling it a night. But recently I’ve been experimenting with frying everything that’s not tied down—recent victims of my frying jag include brussels sprouts, zucchini, chickpeas, capers, dough, fish, okra, and pickes—and I’ve come to the not-surprising conclusion that pretty much anything that’s good roasted or baked is even better fried. So why not try frying some kale chips as a comparison? While the first batch of kale chips crisped up in the oven, I pulled out the dutch oven and heated the oil to 325°. When the oil was ready, I tossed in a few pieces of kale.
And then I shrieked.
I’ve been frying enough recently that I knew to dry the kale pieces as thoroughly as possible before adding them to the hot oil. But curly kale—with its innumerable unreachable nooks and crannies for water to hide in—just can’t be dried that thoroughly. So when the kale hit the oil, the oil spattered and flew everywhere. I was more startled than actually injured, but regardless, I think I’ve learned my lesson: curly kale chips should be baked, not fried.
Which is a shame, because as good as the baked kale chips were, the fried ones were even better. The whole leaf becomes shatteringly crisp and translucent, and it feels like it’s dissolving in your mouth. If I can figure out a way to make these without coating my kitchen with a fine mist of hot oil, I’ll be making them all the time. For those of you in DC who have had the transcendent palak chaat at Rasika, know that fried kale begins to approach that level of awesomeness. Maybe I’ll have to find some flat kale.
1 bunch kale
Preheat oven to 350°.
Wash and thoroughly dry kale leaves. Fold each leaf in half and slice out the rib, then tear the leaf into bite-sized pieces.
Place kale two baking sheets and toss with oil and salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until suitably crispy and delicious. Eat immediately.
(There’s a Bon Appetit recipe that has them in a 250° oven for 30 minutes. That’ll be my next experiment, but I have a feeling I’ll prefer having the extra 20 minutes of my life to eat the kale chips.)