April 6, 2012

Fried Egg Kale Chip Sandwiches

I heart sandwiches. In my house growing up, my dad was in charge of sandwiches. At lunch time on a weekend, my sister and I would wait for my dad to come home from his studio and announce it was lunch time. Then we would gather around in the kitchen and eagerly await the sandwiches he would set in front of us.

They were variations on a theme: sliced turkey and cheese, often gruyere or goat gouda, on a toasted bagel with some combination of dijon mustard, spicy peppers, hummus, watercress, and tomato from the garden. Often, the sandwiches would contain evidence of last night's dinner: a slice of steak or a sliver of grilled chicken. On a weekends home from college, despite having slept in and had breakfast only just before my dad's lunch hour, I would always raise my hand when my dad asked who else wanted a sandwich.

Now on visits home, nothing has changed. My dad's sandwiches are legendary. But I live pretty far from home. I am working on my own sandwich making skills. There are two types of sandwiches. Throw together sandwiches: which incorporate things requiring no preparation (sliced meat, tomatoes, condiments, leftovers etc.). And project sandwiches: for which you cook things. This past weekend, I stumbled on a project sandwich that was worth writing home about. I had a large bag of kale that needed rescuing and a moment of inspiration.

I set to work on caramelizing an onion (an important first step to any project sandwich). The original plan was: balsamic vinaigrette, caramelized onions, crispy kale chips, and sliced hard boiled eggs, but before the water came to a boil I realized that a fried egg would be a much better way to go.

I made the sandwiches with cheddar, but as my audience pointed out, mozzarella would be amazing. I served them with a side of spicy sweet potato oven fries. But they would also make a full dinner with a bit of salad or any other veggie. I have had these twice already, and will probably have them again this weekend. I will also be doing some grilled cheese sandwich experimentation in the next few weeks in order to enter this competition. (That's right, it is a grilled cheese academy!!).

- Franklin

Fried Egg and Crispy Kale Sandwiches
Total Time: 1 hour 25 Minutes
Makes four sandwiches
Sweetness Factor: 2; Indulgence Factor: 6; Difficulty Factor: 5; Chance I'll Make Them Again: 10.

For the sandwiches:
1 large vidalia onion (I used 1 vidalia and 1 red, so I would have leftovers)
1 bunch of kale (I prefer curly kale for kale chips, but any type will work)
a few tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper
4 eggs
8 slices of bread (I used a sourdough batard)
cheese to taste (cheddar or mozzarella or whatever you like)

For the balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
two cloves of garlic
ample salt and pepper

For the potatoes:
3 large sweet potatoes
1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Thinly slice the onion. Put over low to medium heat with lid on until onions begin to wilt. Add a tablespoon olive oil, turn the heat down to low, put the lid back on. Stir occasionally. Cook for about 1 hour until soft and mushy.

Preheat the oven to 400. Scrub the potatoes. Slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch spears. Grind up the spices. Toss the spears with the olive oil and spices. Spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for about 35 minutes, stirring once about half way through, until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork and are starting to brown a bit.

For the kale, when the potatoes are done turn the oven temperature down to 350. Carefully rinse the kale. Remove the leaves from the stems. The stems are no good in this meal, but save them because they are excellent in a stir fry or in a lentil stew. Rip the kale up into smallish pieces. Toss the kale with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread it out on a baking sheet and put in the oven. Make sure the kale is spread thinly enough (there shouldn't be too many pieces stacked on top of each other) or the kale won't cook evenly. Bake until the kale is crispy and beginning to brown.

For the dressing, combine the liquid ingredients and the mustard in a jar and give it a good shake. Peel the garlic and press against the cutting board with the side of your knife. Add the cloves whole. Salt and pepper to taste. Taste the dressing and alter the vinegar/ oil ratio to suit your taste.

Fry the eggs. Toast the bread (I have a toaster oven, so I put the cheese on before putting the bread in the toaster). Drizzle one side of the bread with the vinaigrette. Smear on onions, sprinkle on kale, add the cooked egg. Eat!

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