This recipe is for Keith’s mum Marion who’s been waiting for ages for me to post it!
My boyfriend and I had these in Los Angeles last year at The Standard Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, sat by a pool with a beer before dinner. Is that image sickening enough for you and do you now hate me? My work here is done.
The point is, it was the first time I’d come across them and I was amazed – I thought them super cool and we scoffed the lot pretty darn quickly. That I knew they were healthy was a massive bonus. Salty pre-dinner snacks are a weakness of mine (see post on tomato salsa, which I eat tons of with tortilla chips). I now serve these delicate crisps as often as I can get my hands on some good strong kale, and people always love them, even people who you might expect to turn their noses up at something so…well – righteous.
The bags of ready-chopped curly kale you can get in the supermarket will do at a push, though you will have to spend more time preparing them, as I will explain. Whole leaves give you better results as you have more control. Cavalo nero (Sainsbury’s and Waitrose often have this) or any kind of sturdy leafy kale works. Preheat the oven to between 100 and 140º Centigrade. I find it’s more about keeping an eye on them than it is about exact temperature. You’re drying them out rather than cooking them.
Wash the kale and using scissors completely cut out the woody stems of every leaf. This is important. The stems will go soggy in the oven. The following pic is my kale in the process of being prepared. The leaf at the top of the pic is half way through having the spine cut out.Cut the de-spined kale into pieces about the size of half a postcard/a cassette/ an iPhone depending on what decade you were born in. If you bought a plastic bag of ready-chopped curly kale from the supermarket, you will have to painstakingly find all the largest chunks and rip them off the bits of spine, and you will mostly be cooking pieces the size of the tiniest post-it note available to man. It’ll still work.
Spread some of the pieces on a tray. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them and some chilli flakes if you want, then pour a shampoo-sized dollop of olive oil into your palm and using both hands rub it all over the pieces of kale. It helps it cook nicely and helps the seasoning stick.
Important tip number two: try not to have pieces overlapping, or folded over on themselves. A more-or-less single layer is what you’re aiming for. Like this:Pop in the oven for ten minutes, then take them out and rearrange them so any folded bits are unfolded (you will notice they are soggier than the bits that have had more air around them), and put back for another 5 minutes. Repeat this process until they’re all dried out and crisp like so:
And be warned.
They will get eaten