Sunday, June 19, 2016

"Swifty's Greens..." - Some Commentary on Utica Greens Gone Astray.

So the Wife, kids, and I went to a late dinner at Swifty's (home of the famous "Deep Fried Buffalo Burger") in Delmar last night. My family had just arrived home from viewing "Finding Dory" and I had spent most of the evening drinking brew-doggies. We were all feeling a bit peckish.

It appears that Swifty's has a new menu. As I stated above, last night I was a few brew-doggies deep... Due to my slightly addled condition I didn't really peruse past the appetizers. Seeing as I had the old Swifty's menu pretty much memorized any new additions are welcome indeed. I owe this new menu issue further study...

An appetizer that immediately caught my attention was, "Swifty's Greens." I probably should remember the description from the menu, but I don't. It was an obvious play on Utica Greens, but with corned beef (we get it Swifty's, Irish) subbed for the usual prosciutto.

Now, I am a huge fan of Utica Greens from way back. Give me a plate of greens "Vescio" from the Franklin and I am in heaven. The very point of this hack weblog was to evangelize about New York's local food traditions. But in helping to bring the beauty of this style of 'schkarole to a wider audience, I may have contributed to the making of a monster...

These "Swifty's Greens" were executed poorly. I don't know how else to say it. Utica Greens (like another Central NY delicacy-- Chicken Riggies) is a grandma dish. It is not fussy, or particularly hard to make. But it must be done right. "Swifty's Greens" are not done right. If this was my first experience with "Utica Greens" I would be put off of them. That is a shame.

The "Swifty's Greens" were all wrong. The escarole was crunchy. You have to boil the escarole for about 10 minutes before sautéing/baking. It is my guess that Swifty's just hits their greens in a pan. The meat component was all wrong. There were big bits of meat in there and they were an assertive textural component. This is wrong. There was pizza cheese melted on top. This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I won't even comment on the cast iron skillet presentation...

When you are thinking about Utica greens you should think of them as a "side dish." Think of the mouth-feal of stuffing or dressing -- savory, tender, comforting. Think of that except spicy from the cherry pepper and a bit funky from the parmesan. That is the feeling of good Utica greens.

You can't be cute with Utica Greens. No "the greens are still a bit crisp" business. This is not the place for that and it is not how the greens are treated in this application. Boil them until they are limp and dead. It is perfectly fine, even preferable, to make Utica Greens in a big hotel pan the night before and then reheat them for service. Just give me a big scoop on a side plate. Save the cast iron skillet..

I don't mean this as a hit piece. I am absolutely thrilled to see a Utica Greens inspired dish on a local menu. The dish just needs a bit of work. Go ahead, Swifty's. Email me. Tweet at me. I will give you Utica Greens tips all day long. We can work on this...

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