Our Empty Nest NY Greens
Cooked lettuce? Yep, it's a thing, especially in New York State where this wonderful dish is known as "Utica Greens" after the city where people of Italian decent enjoy Greens cook-offs and a friendly rivalry for the title of Best Utica Greens.
I'm renaming them, "Empty Nest NY Greens" for a couple of reasons, a) children may not appreciate the idea of cooked lettuce or the snappy bite of this dish, b) we always called delicacies like this "adult food" at our house which enlarged foodie curiosity in the children and reserved the lion's share for us, c) because now that the children are grown, my Inamorato and I can sometimes afford to eat at the wonderful Delmonico's where this dish is an outstanding treat, d) because we have discovered them as a twosome (again) these greens have become a sign and symbol to us that there are always new things to discover with fledglings or back to being lovebirds, and e) we have gathered food memories wherever we have lived and it is time to write the NY cache.
I wasn't bold enough to ask the chef for his recipe but I tried my hand with this newspaper clipping (with a couple of adjustments) and they were pretty darn close!
2 heads escarole
4 thin slices of prosciutto sliced (or 1/2 cup ham, bacon or pancetta)
2-6 cloves chopped garlic (to taste)
1 cup chopped onion
2 -3 Hot Italian peppers seeded and Julienned (Cherry Peppers in a jar are ok)
1/2 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 c. Pecorino Romano grated (I used 1/2c. Asiago)
1 c. chicken broth
Salt and Pepper
1. pour yourself a glass of red to cook with (drink whilst cooking!)
2. wash greens really well and slice in 1 inch strips
3. blanch greens in boiling salted water for two minutes and cool quickly in ice water. Drain well
4. saute the onion till translucent, add garlic and peppers but don't blacken, add the broth for a minute to flavour.
5. add the reserved escarole of for one minute just to combine remove from heat.
6. combine salt and pepper, bread crumbs and cheese as a topping for greens in an oven-proof casserole or pan.
7. bake till cheese melts in a hot oven.
We had these as an appetizer with good bread at D's but they are fantastic as a side dish and I know some (large-ish) children who would not be adverse to a hearty breakfast of such.