Monday, October 31, 2011

Baked Kale - I'm addicted

I think I'm addicted to Kale.  Not angry birds addicted (although I've never played the game1) or iPhone-at-a-red-light-to-play-Words-With-Friends addicted, but certainly somewhere in between.

Now, I wouldn't recommend preparing your first attempt at kale to a date (it can be bitter and may require some trial and error).  However, unlike something like sea bass $17.99/lb, at $1.99/lb, you can screw up a few times (on your own) without wasting too much of your alcohol money.

In the past (pre-addiction), I'd usually sauté kale in a skillet with olive oil and sweet onions, but now I've started to bake it.  Kale is becoming a staple. On those off-nights of being a lazy, single guy who tries to hold on to the inklings of healthy eating - baking kale takes 2 minutes of prep, 35 minutes of cook time, and 15 seconds of skill (the skillet handle is hot you idiot).  Oh, and its hella healthy for you.

As usual, I'm late to the game and baking kale is really just "kale chips" but here's what I've learned:
  •  A whole bag of kale cooks down to two or three nice servings
  • You don't need a baking sheet to bake kale or make "kale chips."  I've tried using a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet (because seriously, what guy owns a baking sheet)
  • I'm always skeptical of throwing teflon-coated (non-stick) skillets in the oven
  • The cast-iron was definitely better than the stainless steel.  The kale picks up the seasoning of the cast-iron
  • You can have about 3-4 inches of kale stacked in a skillet but anything much higher makes it a lot more difficult to crispify
  • Roasted fennel and kale does not taste good

You can get creative with seasoning the kale.  The standard recipe is:
  • Loosely, chopped kale
  • Salt, pepper, and lightly coat with olive oil
  • Bake 375 for 35 minutes (mix around after 15 or so)

The basic kale recipe lacked the edge so here are some adjustments I've tried:
  • Add parmesan cheese with about 5 minutes left, the cheese cuts the slight bitterness
  • Before lightly coating the kale, pre-mix the olive oil with cheyenne pepper so the kale has a little heat (Winner)
  • Salt right before serving
  • I had a little bit of steak fat left over in the cast-iron skillet which brought out the flavor (Winner)

1 One of my illogical (usually temporary) boycotts - like Wegmans (caved after 18 months) or flip flops with jeans (caved at some point) or Spotify (still holding out) or Google Reader (nope...).