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
- 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
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.