At Mintwood Place in Washington, D.C., chef Cedric Maupillier doesn’t skimp on richness, even when a dish focuses on kale, darling of the superfood-loving set. How does he transform a bitter leafy green into something indulgent? First, he breaks out the fryer, turning the kale crispy, glossy and irresistible. (These are no crumbly chips.) He pairs it with the molten chocolate cake of cheeses, the pork belly of the lacto-vegetarian crowd: burrata.
Maupillier’s cooking is hardly one-note; he cuts through the fat with welcome tartness in the form of a quick tamarind dressing and cubes of tangy apple. Possibly best of all: The appetizer spans the seasons.
“My local farm grows kale all year round, so the dish is not going anywhere as long as people are still enjoying it,” the chef says. By that definition, it may well be on the menu forever.
Crispy Kale and Burrata With Tamarind Dressing • 11/2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
• 1/2 cup water
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith
• 2 cups peanut or grapeseed oil
• 1 cup lightly packed kale leaves, such as Red Russian
• 1 cup lightly packed baby kale leaves, such as lacinato
• 8 ounces fresh cheese, such as burrata
• 1/4 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
Whisk together tamarind pulp (seeds and fiber included) and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture has reduced by half, about 20 minutes, then strain into a bowl, discarding the solids.
Whisk in extra-virgin olive oil, honey, sea salt and ground black pepper to form a dressing. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
Peel and core 1/2 Granny Smith apple or another firm, tart apple. Cut into small dice, then immediately stir it into the dressing to keep the fruit from discoloring.
Heat 2 cups peanut or grapeseed oil in a small, deep pot to 300 degrees (use an instant-read thermometer). Fry 1 cup stemmed, lightly packed, red Russian (or other curly) kale leaves until crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, then immediately sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Divide 1 cup lightly packed baby lacinato kale leaves (or thinly sliced larger leaves) among the plates. Cut 8 ounces fresh burrata into quarters, placing one on each portion of lacinato kale. Add the fried kale leaves. Drizzle on the tamarind-apple dressing, sprinkle with 1/4 cup skinned, toasted and chopped hazelnuts, and serve.4 servings