Blind Chef Christine Ha's Recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Creamed Kale

PHOTO: Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Creamed KaleReveille Independent, LLC/Rodale, Inc.
Buttermilk fried chicken with creamed kale from MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook © 2012 by Reveille Independent, LLC. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

During Monday night's season 3 "MasterChef" finale, Christine Ha won the title, $250,000 grand prize and a cookbook deal. But that's not what makes her so inspiring. Ha is blind -- the first blind contestant on the show.

Ha navigates her way through a world of sharp knives and hot stoves with her sense of smell, touch and taste. Read here story HERE.

Below, the chef shares one of her recipes from her cookbook, 'MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook,' available in stores next week.

Recipe: Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Creamed Kale

From the chef's cookbook: The orange zest and juice in the marinade was the first hint that Christine Ha intended her fried chicken to be more than a little out of the ordinary, but it was the creamed kale that clinched the deal. Used to thinking of leafy greens as the healthiest of vegetables? Simmer them in 3/4 pound of cream cheese and a cup of heavy cream, and you may think a little differently! The sturdy, strongly flavored greens take remarkably well to this treatment, however, and even if it's not your everyday preparation, try it at least once. The cherry tomatoes add color and a little pop of acid at the end of the cooking time, and the blood oranges on the finished plate indicate that this is not ordinary fried chicken. For the best flavor, marinate the chicken overnight.

Serves 4

Ingredients for the Chicken

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 oranges, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 chicken drumsticks

Canola oil

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups cornmeal

4 teaspoons garlic powder

4 teaspoons onion powder

4 teaspoons sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Ingredients for the Creamed Kale

2 pounds kale, stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon canola oil

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces cream cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste

8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1 blood orange, cut into wedges

Instructions for Making the Chicken:

Whisk the buttermilk, orange zest and juice, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to one day, rotating the drumsticks to marinate evenly.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Set a cooling rack in a large shallow baking pan. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Mix the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Drain the chicken in a colander and discard the marinade. Add the chicken, one piece at a time, to the bag and shake to coat well. Tap off the excess flour mixture and transfer the chicken pieces to a sheet of waxed paper.

Add four drumsticks to the hot oil and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack in the baking pan and keep warm in the oven. Return the oil to 350 degrees F before frying the remaining four chicken drumsticks.

Kale recipe continues on page 2

Instructions for Making the Kale:

Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Cook the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain, then submerge the kale in ice water to cool completely. Drain well.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, cream, salt, and pepper and stir to blend. Add the kale and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the kale is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, then cover and cook until they are heated through and tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Divide the creamed kale among four serving bowls and set each on a plate. Place two drumsticks on each plate and serve with the blood orange wedges.