Friday, September 27, 2013

Utica Greens With My Homegrown Escarole. So Technically -- Delmar Greens in the Style of the Uticans.

I planted quite a lot of escarole this year. Escarole is a good late season thing to grow because it tolerates the cold fairly well. More importantly, escarole is delicious and is used in one of my favorite Central NY dishes -- Utica Greens. I posted a sort of bastardized version of the recipe some time ago (you can read it here). But I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over a (sort of) more traditional version of the dish. I am fond of doing "reloaded" versions of Utica dishes for some reason and you can see my v2.0 of Chicken Riggies here.

We start with our escarole, I used 4 small/young heads this time. I like to remove the largest stalks as I enjoy a fully tender version of Utica Greens. Pursuant to this I boil the chopped greens in plenty of water to ensure their tenderness. About 5 minutes is sufficient.

Utica Greens tend to be a bit spicy. I believe Italian long hot peppers are the traditional source of heat but in this case I went with a couple of the lacto-fermented pickled cherry peppers that I also grew in my garden. I used 1 green and 1 red chopped fine.

Also chop up 4 or 5 slices of cheap prosciutto and huck it into a pan with the peppers and a generous amount of olive oil. Sweat that out for a bit then throw in a hearty amount of chopped garlic.

Toss the wilted escarole to make sure you get it all oily and incorporated with the prosciutto, peppers, and garlic. After sautéing for a minute or two add approximately 1 cup of good flavorful chicken stock.

When the liquid comes to a simmer add a handful or so of whatever hard Italian grating cheese you have on hand and enough breadcrumbs to absorb the lion's share of the liquid. You will be left with a fairly unattractive and gloopy looking substance.

Get out your best piece of CorningWare and spread your greens paste into a nice flat layer. Top with additional bread crumbs/cheese and run under a broiler until browned.

Not the prettiest of dishes but I find it to be absolutely delicious in a comforting/down-homey sort of way. My favorite way to take my Utica Greens is on top of a chicken cutlet sandwich with an additional layer of provolone or mozzarella. You just can't beat that with a stick. Utica Greens are equally good on their own as a side dish if that suits your pleasure. Another pro-tip -- mix in some roasted potatoes. I learned that one from Mazzaferro's in Rome.

There you have it. Utica Greens -- a classic. Next on my list of ways to use up the large amount of escarole I have on hand -- Greens and Beans. Another classic. Escarole is great, I encourage you to grow it by the ton.

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