Minggu, 29 Desember 2013

Utica Greens and Beans – Finding Good Fortune in Upstate New York

As many of you hardcore foodies know, there’s a southern tradition of eating beans and greens on New Year’s Day to help bring good fortune in the coming year. 

By eating “poor” the first day of the year, you supposedly ensure prosperity and good luck the rest of the year. I think I speak for all superstitious, Italian-Americas when I say, that totally makes sense.

Whether you believe in such things or not, you should still try this year’s edible good luck charm, Utica Greens. This delicious Upstate New York vegetable casserole comes in many forms, but usually contains some combination of bitter greens, usually escarole, pancetta or prosciutto, hot fresh or pickled peppers, and bread crumbs.

I’m adding some cranberry beans, so you all get rich in 2014, but that’s totally fine since the locals often add chunks of potatoes, and once you start doing things like that, all bets are off. Whether side dish or main course, this is a perfect winter vegetable magnet, and I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy, Happy New Year, and most of all, good fortune!


Ingredients for 6 side dish servings:
2 heads escarole
2 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or prosciutto, diced (You can drain some of the rendered fat if it looks like it's going to be too much. You want about 2 tablespoons total rendered fat pancetta in the casserole)
handful of sliced fresh hot peppers, or jarred pickled peppers
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
12 ounce can cooked cranberry beans, or Cannellini beans, butter beans, white beans, etc., optional
salt and black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fine plain bread crumbs, plus more for the top
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
drizzle top with more olive oil
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