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Jeff Houck

The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.

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A Way To Eat Kale For People Who Hate Kale [Chef John Besh Cooks From The Heart]

Posted Oct 23, 2013 by Jeff Houck

Updated Oct 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM

Fried Kale Salad

I am not a friend of kale.

I am not kale’s enemy, per se, but neither am I its ally.

I love greens, especially mustard greens. I love spinach. I am a fan of broccoli.

I have even learned in my later years to enjoy a plate of Brussels sprouts, something I never would have expected until I had them shaved and broiled at Todd English‘s BlueZoo restaurant in Lake Buena vista.

But kale? Kale is to me what Fredo was to Michael Corleone. Dead to me.

Something bitter in the leaf clearly does not react well with my palate.

Another thing it doesn’t react well with: Pontification by kale disciples.

I know it’s a super-food. I know it’s full of vitamins and stuff. I know this. I just don’t like it.

To them, I say: Shhhh-shhhhh-shhhhh. Just shush. Enough with the words, please. Your kale-y-er than thou stance is almost as bad as the kale.

I may have to reconsider my stance, however, now that I’ve seen chef John Besh‘s recipe for Fried Kale Salad.

'Top Chef Masters'Outside of coastal Louisiana, where he owns and operates several restaurants, Besh is perhaps best known as a competitor on Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and as a guest judge on “Top Chef.”

What many might not know - including me - was that he spent his early years cooking through Germany and France. He covers those years in his new book “Cooking From The Heart; My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way,” (Andrews-McMeel, $40).

Unlike his previous books, which have focused on Bayou cooking, this offers a glimpse at the classic European dishes that shaped his training. It’s a warmly told and offers a fascinating tour of his cooking discoveries.

Many recipes in the book are beyond the skill of most home cooks, but his recipe for Fried Kale Salad is something everyone could tackle.

“This is hardly a traditional salad,” he writes. “What I’m doing is frying kale leaves in oil, which for me makes a more satisfying dish than raw kale leaves. Shavings of Parmesan lend a salty tang to every bite.

Okay, John. I’m putting my taste buds in your capable hands. Don’t let me down.

* * * * * *

John Besh CookbookFRIED KALE SALAD
Makes 6 servings

Canola Oil
1 bunch Iacinto or Tuscan kale, stems and ribs removed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Parmesan cheese

Heat 3 inches of oil in a medium heavy bottomed pot to 350 degrees on a candy thermometer. Fry the kale in batches until the edges of each leaf curl up, 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. In a large bowl, toss the fried kale with the lemon zest and juice, then top with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Source: “Cooking From The Heart,” by John Besh.


Reader Comments

Por (GeoKaren) on October 23, 2013 (Suggest removal)

what *doesn’t* taste good deep fried and covered in parm??

Suggest removal
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