Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cooking with Ryan: "Utica Greens"

Apparently there is something out in Utica New York called Utica Greens, and Guy Fieri went out there for his show, saw them being cooked, enjoyed them and turned it into a Food Network recipe. I went to the Food Network Random Recipe (you can find it on Google) and it brought me to that particular recipe.
It was definitely going to be interesting, because it involved a couple things that I don't think I had ever eaten, fennel and escarole. Definitely a grown up dish. The fennel, for those that haven't had it, is an onion like vegetable in appearance, but smells and tastes a little like licorice. Ok, it SMELLS a lot like licorice, the taste is much more muted. Escarole is a leafy green.
The cooking.... didn't go as well as planned. I had the pork sauteing while I julienned the veggies, which took forever. As a result, the pork got a little charred, and then the onions and fennel were probably over cooked a bit. I then mixed the seasoning while the escarole was cooking, and I said... whoa.
Entire spoonfuls of red pepper, regular pepper, salt, garlic salt, all mixed in with red wine vinegar, then mixed with all this rendered ham which is salty in it's own right, and it was overwhelmingly flavorful. The first impression was how hot it was. I started sweating and my nose started running. After I slowed down, the sensation of heat came down, and the incredible saltiness was the biggest thing.
In the time since I had it, I found out that it is often had as part of a sandwich. That makes sense, because it was a little overwhelming plain. If I had known that, I think something like a thick burger or chicken sandwich would have been complimented nicely by something like this. Maybe next time.
Oh, and to make you feel sad for me: Remember how I said I charred the meat? I had so much gunk stuck to the bottom of the pan when I was done, it took me forever to wash. The dishwater turned black when I was done with it. And then the brush from my garlic press went down the garbage disposal. A disaster all around.
Last but not least, I have had some criticism of the way the food looks when I am done cooking it. I can honestly say that this looked as bad as the photo indicates.

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