Recipe Wednesday: oven-baked bacon-and-kale chips

baconandoil.jpg
Whitney Ariss
Pete Marczyk and Barbara Macfarlane do not leave their work behind when they leave Marczyk Fine Foods and head for their great old Denver house with a spacious kitchen. They often bring some of their market's best ingredients home with them and cook up a feast, and when they're not cooking at home, they're working with the staff at Marczyk to create recipes for the rest of us to enjoy, usually turning to Whitney Ariss, a home cook and the market's marketing project manager and events coordinator, for inspiration.

"Now that we're a week into the new year," says Ariss, "most of us are at least thinking about forming healthier eating habits, which means different things to different people, but almost all of us can find some common ground with one simple and timeless rule: Eat your vegetables!"

See also: Cooking with Pete and Barb Marczyk: homemade limoncello

"Just about everybody can benefit from working more vegetables into their diet, and when they taste extra-delicious, it makes the task infinitely more pleasurable," she adds, noting that the secret to today's recipe -- oven-crisped kale leaves -- is the always-pleasurable bacon. "I love this recipe because it's ridiculously simple, and the bacon makes the kale delicious enough to devour with enthusiasm, which might be welcome news to anybody who hasn't managed to climb on board the kale train, yet," says Ariss. "The use of bacon fat adds an extra layer of magic to the final result, and I also love throwing in a little bit of the Southwest spice mix that we sell from Savory Spice Shop, but you can use just about any spice mix you like, or nothing at all," she notes. Kale chips, she concludes, "make a great snack or appetizer, and I also love using them as a topping or garnish for soups, stews or beans." By the way, you can even crumble the leaves and toss them with your popcorn on movie night.

Bacon-and-kale chips
Serves about 4

Ingredients

1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves washed and spun dry
1tablespoon melted bacon fat
1 teaspoon Savory Spice Shop El Diente Southwest spice mix (optional)
A good pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees

1. Tear kale leaves into bite-sized pieces.
2. Drizzle bacon fat over kale and season with Southwest seasoning, salt and pepper.
3. Toss fat and spices with kale until leaves are evenly coated.
4. Arrange kale leaves in a single layer on two baking trays (make sure not to stack leaves or they will steam in the oven instead of getting crispy).
5. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until leaves have wilted but are not yet browned.
6. Remove trays from oven and toss leaves, making sure none stick to the trays.
7. Arrange leaves in a single layer, again, and return to oven and allow leaves to crisp, about 5-7 minutes more.
8. Remove from oven immediately and allow chips to cool before serving.



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