Thursday, February 12, 2009

roasted (because i have to use it once)

the other day, it occurred to me
that i may have misnamed this blog,
spoken too soon, 
grabbed onto something 
that i couldn't fully own.
three seconds earlier,
i realized that while i really do
love not lazy. rustic. 
i, it turns out, am a roasting maniac
and i had the perfect name:

from what i can tell, it has yet to be claimed
(quick someone jump on it),

i've heard that blogging tells
you about yourself and my first lesson
was that i love to roast,
which believe it or not,
i didn't realize. 
i cook in a hot oven 
and on a rimmed baking sheet
more than i cook 
any other way. 
it's an obvious fallback.

but giving it further thought, i realized
what a pigeon-hole that was,
delicious of a pigeon-hole that it may turn out to be.
sure, i'd write about a chicken (eventually),
some salmon,
fruit and nuts, 
whole shallots,
a pepper,
maybe that recipe for special-occasion dungeness crab
i made almost a year ago to the day,
brussels sprouts 
and more.
but, then i thought, i'd be done,
cut down before my blogging prime,
forced to launch:
(fyi: also, yet to be snatched up.)

because in all my imagining,
and maybe i'm sometimes guilty of
dreaming inside the culinary box,
(although i hope not),
i never thought 
to roast greens.
they're for steaming, 
for boiling,
for eating raw,
i thought.

until this weekend. we 
watched jacque pepin, who is
effortlessly lovely and has the ability
to make anything look simple and, more
importantly irresistible. 

he was making
chili con carne, which he 
prepared in a pressure cooker 
and stuffed into
lettuce leaves. 
see, what i mean? 
he kind of gets away with things 
that i would shun 
other chefs for. 
and he made the whole bundle 
look like it wouldn't be a 
mess to eat.
it would.

but, then, just as i was contemplating
changing the channel,
pepin appeared with a tray of kale and 
i heard the word roast.
i put the remote down.

it seemed too easy to work,
too much of a rather 
uninspired vegetable - 
reserved as an add in
for soups
pastas -
not a star in its own show, 
to pack that much punch.

before roasting
but as we watched him
place the leaves on rack set over a
roasting pan, drizzle with a very tiny 
amount of oil and a very light sprinkle 
of kosher salt, toss the whole
thing in a 250˚F oven, very cool
by roasting standards,
i knew we had to try
to make crunchy kale.

yes, the end result is crunchy. 
like, kettle chip crunchy.
like, you can hear someone in
the next room take a bite, crunchy.

it's was the perfect
accompaniment to the squid stew,
nibbled on the side 
crumbled atop the bowls.
(and the next night, when we heated up
the stew leftovers, i stirred the
few remaining pieces of crunchy kale
into the tomato-based broth. 
it mellows well.)

after roasting
these would also be fun as a 
garnish for a chicken
or fish dish -
a great alternative to the
fried basil sprig or spinach leaf.

jacques pepin's crunchy kale
pepin cautioned against using too much olive oil, which i strongly second. the pieces that had a few extra drops, were the only ones that didn't perfectly crisp and also seemed to retain extra salt. if you have an oil mister, i think this is a good time to bring it out. the rack helps air circulate all around the leaves, rather than roasting the top and steaming the bottom.

1 bunch kale, stemmed and leaves torn
1 tablespoon olive oil (or less)
kosher salt
heat oven to 250˚F. place oven rack or cooling rack on baking sheet. top with kale leaves. drizzle with olive oil or mist very lightly. sprinkle with kosher salt; toss to coat. roast 20 to 25 minutes, or until leaves are crispy, turning leaves if it seems necessary.


mamacita said...

If you do "roasting" you will hate yourself come August.

eileen said...

I love your blog! I roast everything also. I tried the kale and failed twice. Once I forgot the oven temp. (too hot, burned kale, yuck!) and once I forgot the rack. And, it seemed to take forever.
But I roast almost every other veg.- string beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, peppers.
Have you tried roasting fruit? Cut up all kinds (apples, berries, pears, grapes), a lot of cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, uncovered @450 until done. Use hot as a compote or cold as a dessert.

brooke herman said...

eileen - thank you!
well, when i first tried to roast the kale, i didn't realize my oven was set to broil. i couldn't figure out why nothing was happening. not so smart.
yes, i recently roasted strawberries, thanks to my friend lisa (a dinner party). but i've never tried grapes...i cannot wait to.