I have been experimenting with kale chips for awhile, mostly focussing on the spice factor. I discovered however, that using a different variety of kale is the real secret to improvement. When regular kale is roasted, it becomes so brittle (because it is a thin leaf), that just picking it up causes it to crumble. A variety called Lacinato kale has a thicker leaf, therefore is sturdier when roasted.
So now I have the perfect leaf and spices that will even get your kids to gobble these up. Quantities are loose here, since every head of kale is different, so you have to be a little flexible.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F or 375degrees if using a convection oven. Use a head of Lacinato kale (or a different flatter, thicker leafed kale than the traditional one). For best results, prepare the kale before washing/drying. Cut out the hard spine that runs in the center of the leaves. Break up the pieces of kale into approximately 2-3″ pieces. Soak in cold water, swishing the leaves around to loosen any sandy earth. Remove the leaves by hand, into a strainer (don’t dump it out or you pour the sand onto the leaves again!). Repeat the process one more time. Now drain and dry thoroughly. A salad spinner works wonders if you have one.
Very finely grate a hard cheese such as parmigiana reggiano, so it is snowy fine.
Lightly coat a large cookie sheet with good olive oil. I use Lyrika Groves. It’s expensive, but worth it! (Shameless plug: https://www.facebook.com/LyriKaGrovesOrganicExtraVirginOliveOil) Place your kale leaves in a large bowl and lightly coat with oil. Toss well for even distribution.
Lay out your kale pieces, touching, but not overlapping. Spread a dusting of the grated cheese evenly on the leaves, followed by a VERY light dusting of chili pepper. (When the kale shrinks, the chile gets more potent, so unless you like your mouth ON FIRE, use sparingly.)
Here’s the main potential for kale chip destruction: Place the tray in the preheated oven. DO NOT WALK AWAY. If you must multitask, do it in front of your oven. Leave the oven light on so you can observe the chips. They go from “not ready” to “ready” in seconds!
Figure on about 10 minutes, but since ovens vary, watch your chips. When they appear to have shrunk about a third to a half in size, open the oven gingerly, remove a chip with a small spatula and test it. It should be nice and crisp. If you have distributed the leaves evenly on the sheet, all the chips will be ready when the sample is.
Let cool completely and store in a tight plastic container. I guarantee, they won’t last long!