Chef's Table: Hail Kale!
Carter’s Kitchen and Rutledge Cab Co. chef and owner Robert Carter takes kale from super food to supper star
While most of us think of kale as a winter green served as a side, chef Robert Carter of Carter’s Kitchen and Rutledge Cab Co. sees it as an inspiring ingredient. His reinterpreted Caesar uses kale instead of romaine, putting more punch on the plate. “The kale makes it better for you than the traditional Caesar, and I created a dressing that’s also healthier and lighter,” he says. Not stopping with just salad, Carter demonstrates that kale shows a surprising affinity for invention. Combining kale with country ham and fresh ricotta, he conjures up a flatbread pizza, and in oyster bruschetta, he substitutes savory kale pesto for spinach in a riff on Rockefeller.
While Carter gets his kale from Limehouse Produce and GrowFood Carolina, the home cook may have limited options at the grocery. Carter’s picks: curly kale with green thick ruffled leaves; red Russian kale with ruffled, red-veined purple leaves; Lacinato kale with thinner, bluish crinkly leaves; and baby kale. To choose, he offers some tips. “Use baby if you’re eating it raw,” Carter says. “When cooking down for a soup, or chopping up for something like my bruschetta or pizza, any of the heartier kales work great.”
DISHING IT UP WITH CHEF ROBERT CARTER
RESTAURANTS: Carter’s Kitchen & Rutledge Cab Co.
ACCOLADES: Carter’s Kitchen was named one of the “Best New Restaurants of America: 2012” by Esquire magazine
FIRST F&B GIG: Lindy’s Fried Chicken in Tallahassee, Florida
EDUCATION: Johnson & Wales University
FAVORITE LOCAL INGREDIENT: Grouper
1 lb. baby kale, stems removed, well rinsed,
and patted dry
1 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. Caesar dressing (recipe follows)
Kosher salt to taste
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (recipe follows)
Combine kale, half of Parmesan, and lemon juice. Toss well. Add dressing, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs and toss. Place salad in serving bowl, top with remaining cheese, and serve.
For the dressing:
(makes 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves
1 oil-packed anchovy
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 egg yolk
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Dash Cholula hot sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Blend first four ingredients in a food processor. Add Worcestershire, salt, pepper, olive oil, and hot sauce and pulse until combined. Add Parmesan and pulse three to four times. Pour into a container, cover, and chill before serving.
For the breadcrumbs:
1/4 cup wheat bread, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine ingredients in a small bowl.
Place bread on a baking sheet and bake, turning once or twice, for 20 minutes, until toasted golden. Let it cool and crumble into crumbs.
(Serves 2 as an appetizer)
4 oz. favorite variety kale, stems removed,
rinsed well, patted dry, roughly chopped
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned country ham
1 round piece flatbread (lavash)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Bring one gallon of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Make an ice bath with a large bowl of equal amounts water and ice. When water comes to a boil, add kale and cook for one minute, or until tender. Remove with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon and immediately place it in the ice bath to stop further cooking.
When kale is cool, drain it and squeeze out all the water. Heat butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about two minutes. Add kale and cook for three to four minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. In another sauté pan, cook ham over medium heat until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
When the grill is hot, brush bread on both sides with olive oil and grill it on both sides until golden brown and crispy. Spread ricotta and Parmesan on one side of bread and place it back on the grill to melt the cheese slightly. When cheese is melted, sprinkle with oregano and top with kale and ham. Sprinkle top with crushed red pepper. Cut and serve.
12 pieces brioche or challah, cut into 2 x 1-inch rectangles
Unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. smoked bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
2 qts. canola oil
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. white pepper
4 Tbs. kale pesto (recipe follows)
2 dozen oysters, freshly shucked, liquor removed
Brush bread with butter on both sides and season with salt and pepper. In a large, non-stick skillet, toast bread over medium heat for two minutes per side.
Cook bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat until crispy, three to four minutes.
Put oil in a large pot and heat to 350°F.
Lightly coat each piece of toast with pesto. Place three to four pieces of bacon on top of pesto. Season cornmeal with one teaspoon of salt and white pepper. Lightly dredge oysters in seasoned cornmeal. Working in batches, gently place them in oil for 45 seconds. Remove with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt and white pepper. Place an oyster on top of each bruschetta and serve immediately.
For the kale pesto:
(Makes 1 ½ cup)
1/2 lb. favorite kale, stems removed, rinsed well, patted dry, and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 oil-packed anchovies
1 Tbs. capers
1 ½ tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. black pepper
Bring one gallon of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Make an ice bath with a large bowl of equal amounts water and ice. When boiling, add kale and basil and cook for one minute. Remove with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon and immediately place them in the ice bath to stop further cooking. When kale and basil are cool, drain and squeeze all the water out.
Combine next four ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add kale, basil, and Parmesan and process. Add salt and pepper. Use immediately or remove to a container, pour a light coating of olive oil on top, cover, and refrigerate up to a week.