Bitter. Sweet. Kale.

Winter fosters harsh bitterness.  The biting cold makes us up turn up our jacket collars and wrap our heads in endless scarves.  We hibernate in swaddled blankets.  We search for warmth beneath layers of fabric. 

Winter’s seasonal greens follow suit.  The curly leaves of kale create confused jumbles of layers.  A furled mess of green shelters to protect the stem from the elements.  Bitterness harbors in the leaves.  Keep away unwelcome critters.  Keep away unforgiving Mother Nature.  Bitterness to survive. 

This bitterness comes to the plate.  A mound of green curly kale is often masked by the richness of fatty avocado, the zippy bite of acidic citrus, or the fallback favorite of oil.

But in the careful hands of a chef, only one element is needed to coax this bitter beast from its winter chill: heat.  A subtle, gentle heat will pull it slowly from its ice cocoon into the warm satisfaction of a Spring defrost. 

The tangled mess of leaves are stripped from their stalk.  A dash of flavor comes from the spice cabinet.  The leaves are spread onto a baking sheet to slowly crisp in the oven.  Low, slow, gentle.  A mild defrost, a gradual melt, like a snowman dripping into a pool of water.  A little toss every now and then to let the moisture release. 

The ice melts, the sweetness comes out.  As the chill wears off, a crispy, delightful treat emerges.  The kale chip.  Light, flaky, highly addictive.

Some endings are harsh.  Some are predictably satisfying. 

For this kale chip, the ending is Bitter Sweet.

Try cooking: Kale Chips

Curly Kale, on the stalk

Curly Kale, on the stalk