Kale Chips Sans Tediousness

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Kale chips are addictive. I’ll take them any day over regular chips. In fact, during our juice fast, I craved the light crunch of them over any other crappy-for-you crunchy food, which was at the time, for me, really weird. But they’re kind of a pain in the ass, too.

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The problem with kale chips is three-fold:

  1. They’re a hassle to make. If you’re using large kale leaves, you have to individually slice out the thick center stem, because baking that with the leaf causes uneven bakeage (get on that word, Webster!). That stem also holds a lot of moisture, so the steam from it keeps the chips from crisping up as quickly. 
  2. Store-bought is ex-pen-sive! And not nearly as delicious. In fact, I think most of them taste pretty gross. They come in all these weird flavors and some of them have weird additives and flavor powders that just don’t improve on the basics: EVOO (or ghee, butter, or other healthy oil), salt, maybe a ‘lil garlic powder or lemon zest.
  3. They are gone in a flash. I can easily down a full head of kale in chip-form in a single sitting. So after all that work, by the time you’re ready to sit down and chow on it you get a snack that’s all but picked away by your husband who can’t keep his hands off the stuff (coming soon: Kale Chip Eau de Toilette … by Debbie).

Solving this problem took a little experimentation, and the end result was what I deem a great success: Easy peasy homemade kale chips. Here’s the how-to, but do keep in mind that you could very well tweak this and end up with an even better result (that you should then share here in this open-source kitchen lab webspace):

STEP 1: Get the right kind of kale. Unless you want to “de-vein” each leaf by hand, you’ll want to use baby kale. Costco sells big ‘ol bags of organic baby kale that are perfect here. Other than that you’ll need salt, and a healthy oil (Avocado, EVOO, or ghee give great flavor).

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STEP 2: Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Find your biggest mixing bowl and fill that baby with baby kale. Add about 1 TBSP of oil for every four cups of kale (not packed). Make sure your hands are clean and go ahead and mix it all up. Hands are far more effective than a spatula here. Once the oil is evenly distributed on the leaves …

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STEP 3: Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pile the kale about 3-4 inches high and evenly onto the tray. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of that, and with a same-size baking sheet, press it down, making a baking sheet/parchment paper kale sandwich. Mmmmmm! Resist the urge to bite into it.

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You can actually pile on more than this!

STEP 4: Grab your weights! It’s time to work out. Just kidding. It’s time to pile oven-safe heavy things atop your top baking sheet. I used a large cake pan and filled that with stacked glass pie plates. When you place that in the oven, it will perma-squash that kale, giving you flat, sturdier kale chips.

STEP 5: Bake it, sandwiched and weighted-down, for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Remove everything from the oven, taking care not to burn yourself or your counters on any of the hot “weights.” Remove the top layer of parchment and salt lightly. Turn the oven down to 350.

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STEP 7: With a pizza cutter or large, non-serrated knife, slice your kale chips into the size and shape you desire.

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STEP 8: Place the tray back into the oven for 10-20 minutes. No top-parchment, tray, or weights this time! We need to bake off the steam and let the center-chips crisp. Time varies depending on how thickly you layered the kale, so check out readiness after 10 minutes and go from there.

The kale chips are ready when they are stiff and crisp but not brown, and can be easily lifted off the parchment without bending. Take them off the hot tray (you can actually just move the parchment to a cleared counter space) and let them cool for a few.

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Such an easy way to get a ton of greens in! There’s a lot less crumble here than with your average crinkly kale chip. Make them thick enough and they’re dippable!

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