Monday, November 18, 2013

Kale chips!

Hi - this is the sometimes-seen-daugher of the food adventurer, doing a guest post today!  I've had some requests for the kale chip recipe I've been experimenting, so here it is!

When was the last time YOU ate an entire bundle of kale in one sitting?

Yeah, me either.....until I discovered home made kale chips!!!!

It took me a couple tries to perfect my recipe.  There's a couple of pitfalls that the recipes on the the internet didn't bother mentioning, so the point of this post is NOT to show pretty pictures of kale and the resulting chips, but to help you make delicious kale chips on the first batch, instead of the third. 

My advice is to perfect the basic recipe and then move on to variations.

The recipe is really simple.

Step one: have in your possession a clump of kale
- I shop at Winco since I am broke, poor, grad student who has to convince her non-vegetable eating boyfriend to buy kale.  So, this recipe uses the amount of kale that is twisty-tied together and sold at Winco.  Maybe eight leaves or so?  Enough that when I tear the leaves off of the tough stems it mostly fills my huge glass mixing bowl and is a *little* too much to spread single layer over my full size cookie sheet.

Step two: tear the leaves off the incredibly tough (and bitter stems).  Or not.
- The first recipe I used said to tear leaves into potato chip sized pieces.  DO NOT DO THIS.  The size of your leaves is the first PITFALL. What happens when you roast kale is that it shrinks DRAMATICALLY. And for some reason, the smaller the pieces, the more oily and salty they taste.  The kale that comes prechopped in a bag IS TOO SMALL. Trust me.  You will be disappointing.  Tearing the leaves off the stems, leaving them in as big of pieces as possible seems to produce perfectly sized chips on the other side of the roasting process. What about roasting whole leaves? I've seen several recipes suggest this.  I haven't tried it, but I'm skeptical for a couple of reasons.  After roasting the leaves are very brittle and shatter with handling.  The result of tearing out the stems produces bit size chips after roasting.  Whole leaves would require several bites to eat, and might result in crumbs of kale everywhere.  Also, because there is more moisture in the stems, it might require the leaves to be roasted longer in order to dry the stems, which might result in the leaves becoming over roasted.  The last reason I'm hesitant to try whole leaves is how well I can coat with my flavorings and oil.  The chunks of leaves toss in a bowl nicely.  Whole leaves might be a little more difficult to toss and coat evenly. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.

Step three: Toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil
- I've been using olive oil.  Conceivably coconut oil would work - but this time of the year mine is solid at room temperature and I'm too lazy to heat it up.  I toss the kale in a big bowl after drizzling with the oil. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH OIL. This is pitfall number 2.  It's incredibly easy to over oil the kale - it won't look like there's much oil on the fresh greens, but post roasting you will be SHOCKED.  The leaves shrink, the oil consolidates into a smaller space.  Think about it this way.  This recipe makes 1-2 servings of kale chips.  I find that 1-2 tablespoons of oil on a big bowl of popcorn is about right.  1-2 tablespoons of oil in any recipe is about my max for a single serving of something or it gets too oily.  So trust me here and MEASURE the oil and do NOT add another squirt "just because".

Step four: spread on a cookie sheet
Single layer - use a second sheet if necessary.  Most of the time, one "bunch" of kale is a full cookie sheet, or just over one cookie sheet.

Step five: sprinkle with salt
Error on the side of UNDER salting.  This is pitfall number 3. One recipe I tried suggested 1/2 tsp of salt to be tossed with the kale during the oiling step.  MISTAKE.  Had to throw away the batch because it was inedible. LIGHTLY sprinkle the cookie sheet kale with salt.  You can always add more later.  If I had to estimate the salt, it would be 1/4 tsp or so for an entire batch.  The end result is PLENTY salty for me :)

Step 6: Bake in a 275 degree oven until crispy and dried. Usually 15-20 min.  
Check half way through and separate overlapping leaves about half way through.

Step 7: remove and store
I usually end up eating the chips the next day for some reason.  I've stored in a bowl on the counter, or in a paper lunch sack and both were great - I live in a low humidity area (central CA) and the leaves stayed perfectly crispy the next day.

Here's the problem with the basic recipe.  I'm a super taster.  I'm very very sensitive to bitter flavors.  These chips have a WONDERFUL and ADDICTING mouth feel to them.  But at the tail end of the chew, right before the swallow when the chip has disinegrated onto my tongue and is coating it... I get a flash of bitterness that I find unpleasant. So, I knew I wanted to experiment with some variations that might help hide that flash of bitter.

Here's my favorite so far:

Bacon Maple Glazed Kale Chips

- Fry 2 pieces of bacon in a skillet.  Remove strips, save grease.  See the comment above about Winco and my poor-ness - my cheap thick bacon yeilds about 1 tablespoon of grease per slice.
- chop bacon into little pieces and toss with the kale that was prepared (stems removed etc) like the previous recipe.
- Toss with 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (replaces the olive oil)
- Toss with 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup
- Spread on a cookie sheet
- I do NOT add salt - I find that the bacon provides plenty.
- bake as above.

I found that I needed to bake it longer - the maple syrup puts more moisture on the kale and has to reduce down to get the same level of "crunch".  The first time I made this recipe I panicked at the end of cooking because the leaves still seemed really damp and wet at the end of cooking....but the leaves were on the verge of being over cooked. I went ahead and removed it from the oven and put the chips in the bowl, and realized the "wetness" was just because of the hot melted sugar - as the chips cooled, so did the sugar in the maple syrup.  The leaves/chips were already crisped, and as the syrup cooled it dried nicely too - and the chips ended up perfect :). Not wet or sticky at all, just slightly sweet, not too greasy.

Other variations that are on my list to try are:
- cinnamon sugar
- Ranch
- honey mustard
- tahini
- salt and viinegar

I think you could do anything with these chips that you would do with popcorn - dill flavor etc. :)


  1. I cut the ribs out of mine with scissors. BBQ rub makes good chips! Gotta try your maple bacon recipe.

    My non-vegetable-eating husband laughs every time I make kale chips, because I inevitably chipify and eat the whole bunch and then spend the rest of the day bitching about how much I love/hate kale chips. They've never survived to Day 2 and I'm impressed that yours do.

    1. For some reason I always end up making them at the very last minute at the end of the day, or on a fasting day, so they can't be eaten until the next morning. FAIL - because they are better just out of the oven slightly warm. I knew the maple syrup was going to be a good one when I kept snitching samples out of the oven and the batch was 1/3 gone by the time they actually came out of the oven. LOL.

    2. Funder - how do you do your chips?????? Do you differ from what I wrote above?????

    3. The only suggestion I have is to cut out the ribs with a pair of scissors. I toss mine in oil, lay them on a cookie sheet, add BBQ rub, and bake them at 450. That temperature gives me a 30-second window between "done enough to be crisp" and "totally inedibly burnt." I do not recommend this, and I don't know why it didn't occur to me to cook them longer and lower.

  2. Just reading this makes me start slobbering. Have to try it now.

    1. I'm out of kale.....We only go to the grocery store every 2 weeks and it's taking all my will power not to go over to winco.....My fav wine is ON SALE at Savemart and because I'll arelady be at the grocery store...surely buying kale doesn't count as grocery shopping...

  3. Doing this THIS WEEK. Like. Maybe tomorrow.

  4. Ok, I made them. Addictive little critters! Crunch crunch!