Kale is one of those vegetables, similar to collard greens, that I always intend to incorporate into our meals but can never find palatable ways to do so.  Other than slipping it into soups (and I can’t get my family to eat soup as a main course too often) I’m at a loss.  I always hear that kale chips are a great way to transform kale into something delightful, but my last attempt was more like disappointing.  They came out terribly bitter, and my husband swears they made us sick afterwards.  I held off on trying again, but they were on sale last week, so I took it as a sign.  I decided to do some thorough research and give it another go.

Basically, what I learned is there are two essential steps to getting kale chips just right, and I unfortunately did neither the first time I made them.  Cutting the leaves off the stems (which are the source of bitterness) is essential, as is thoroughly drying the leaves before baking, so that they get crispy rather than soggy.  This time I was diligent, and they were perfect.  I took step by step photos as I went along so the process would be easy to replicate.  The methodology I followed came from Real Food Digest.

Making Kale Chips

First, put the entire bunch of kale in a strainer and wash well, paying attention to dirt that can get trapped between the stem and leaves.  Even though you’ll next do some trimming, it is easier to wash the leaves as whole pieces.

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Next, trim the leaves off the stems, staying as close to the stem as possible.  Then rip the pieces into chip-sized bites.  I wasn’t quite sure how to get a photo of myself in action, but my four-year-old took this photo for me, budding photographer and chef that she is.

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When you’re done trimming, your stems should look like this.  We tossed them in the compost.

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Next (this is a really important step), spread them out on racks (like the kind you use to cool baked goods), and pat them very, very dry.  Then let them air dry for as long as possible. I did this a few hours before I was going to bake them, and left the nearby window open.

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Once they’re dry, put them into a bowl, and season and massage them.  Yes, massage them.  My kids thought it was hysterical.  The concept comes from KB/Superhero, and it was the funniest thing I came across online while researching kale chips.  KB said, “Now it’s time to give the kale an intense massage.  Pretend your a Swiss masseuse and you’re taking out your frustrations on a Wall Street jackass.  Really let him have it.  Massage that dressing into the kale.”  (In this case, I massaged in one tablespoon of olive oil, then I sprinkled them with one teaspoon of kosher salt once they were on the baking sheet.  They can be made them sweet, savory, or however you like them).

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Next, spread them onto however many baking sheets you need to not have leaves overlapping (I needed two large baking sheets).  How you bake them seems to be another key component. Some websites recommended quick, high temps to crisp them, whereas others recommended longer, lower temps to dry them out.  I went with the latter, and baked them at 250 for 35-40 mins, rotating the trays halfway through.  Keep close to the oven and check them after 30 mins, so you can monitor when they get crisp but before they burn.  Taste one and you’ll know if it’s done.

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Done, they’ll look crisp and dry, and are crunchy.

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Finally, serve alongside a casual meal.  We had ours with tomato/turkey bacon/grilled cheese sandwiches, and oranges.  After dinner, I brought my daughter to dance class and my husband stayed home to handle clean-up.  I was sad, although not surprised, to find out the kale chips were completely gone when I returned.  I’ll consider that a good thing.

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