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Eat Your Greens! Spicy Utica Style.

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I’d never heard of Utica Greens until a few months ago. We’d gone out to dinner at a local Italian steakhouse, Delmonico’s. Along with the standard mashed potatoes and Italian Bread, many of the meals were served with a side of something called Utica Greens. It was love at first bite. Spicy, salty, and delicious. A perfect match for my steak. A few weeks later Utica Greens popped up as a question in the weekly trivia night I attend. My interest was piqued. So, I started looking into this tasty dish.

Utica Greens are a spicy escarole dish, named for their birthplace of Utica, New York. I guess they’re kind of a big deal up here. Apparently, there’s even a Utica Greens Fest to celebrate these delicious greens. Clearly, I am no expert on this dish. I know very little of its history or traditional recipe, if there is one, and my only experience with tasting them was during that dinner at Delmonico’s. I tried cooking them once before, following a recipe I found online, but was less than satisfied with the results. So, I’ve decided to create my own version of this Central New York favorite. And, they’re good!

Spicy Utica Greens

Ingredients

  • 12 cups Escarole, rinsed and chopped (It sounds like a lot, but it will reduce significantly.)
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 Red Cherry Peppers, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup Grated Asiago Cheese (or Parmesan blend)
  • 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

Directions

Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place the chopped escarole in the boiling water and simmer for 3 minutes.  The escarole will be bright green and wilted. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set the escarole aside and dry out the pot. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in the pot, over medium heat. Add the prosciutto to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper to the pot and cook for a few more minutes. Try not to eat it at this stage, because it’s going to smell really, really good.

Add the escarole and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Add a little more than half of the bread crumbs and cheese. Stir. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining bread crumbs and cheese.  Place in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, until the cheese and breads crumbs are lightly browned. Serve as a side with steak or chicken.

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9 responses »

  1. Sounds Delish!!! I would like to try this weekend. Is there another meat I can subsitute the prosciutto?

    Reply
    • Hi there!
      They are delish. I’m eating some right now with a baked chicken breast.
      Pancetta or even bacon would probably work great instead of prosciutto. Let me know how it comes out!

      Reply
  2. This is an outstanding recipe… simple, quick and the results are savory with just the right amount of tingly heat. I used good-quality deli prosciutto sliced thin which I then chopped rather than the pre-cubed style that comes in tubs. The results were well worth the extra cost. I also just used a whole head of escarole rather than measuring 12 cups and this also worked fine. No additional salt or pepper was required. This recipe will go into my heavy rotation file. As a CNY person who has consumed a lot of greens, I can attest that this dish stands up to any version in Utica.

    Reply
  3. These greens were wonderful. I agree with kinnakeet I sliced the meat instead of it in cubes. Now I think you should try chicken riggies another Utica recipe.

    Reply
  4. Gave this a try since I moved away from cny n miss the greens. I may have messed something up but the dish didn’t have enough kick and felt overpowered by the chicken broth. may try again to see what I get.

    Reply
    • Hi Matt, Sorry they didn’t work out for you. I’m not sure what happened when you made them. The bread crumbs and parmesan should be enough to sop up most of the 1/3 cup of chicken broth. Next time, you can try reducing the chicken broth or add more bread crumbs/cheese until it’s at a good consistency. Three cherry peppers should produce a good medium-hot heat, but throw in some more if it’s too mild for your tastes. Let me know if you figure out what went wrong the first time. Perhaps there’s something I can make more clear in the directions. I hope it works out better for you next time!

      Reply
  5. Gurl! I live inSouthern Cali… Orange County, to b more precise.. Grew up eating these every time I could! Especially at Antonio’s (old school!!), Santangelos and Gentiles… Can’t wait to try this recipie and prob play with it a bit…thanks for keeping love of Lil Italy in Cuse alive!!!

    Reply

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