lunedì 5 novembre 2012

Dandelion greens

In Avellino there is a standard method for cooking green, leafy vegetables: 

* Clean it.
* Parboil it (which I do NOT do — I’ll explain later).
* Cut it.
* In a frying pan, sauté whole garlic and chili pepper in extra-virgin olive oil (in the olden days, lard).
* At the parboiled vegetable to the pan.
* Cook it uncovered.
* The cooking time depends on the vegetable (4-5 min. for spinach; 10 min. for broccoli rabe, chicory, or Swiss chard; 15 min. for escarole).

But excuse me: how is it possible to discard this precious water, filled with vitamins and flavor? I cannot IMAGINE throwing it away!

The Italian-Canadian television chef, Pasquale Carpino (1936-2005), used a verb, probably of his own invention, “to steam-sauté.” The raw but well-rinsed leaves already have a little bit of water; and you can always add a few drops of water or of broth. Cover the pan, and voilà: steam-sauté!

But with dandelions, even Pasquale resorted to parboiling them first. (He also used the long stems, which are rather hard and bitter.)

So, here is the Ciampa method for cooking green, leafy vegetables:

* Clean the vegetable well.
* Cut it in rather large pieces.
* In a frying pan, fry whole garlic and chili pepper either in EVOO or in the lard from HOMEMADE chicken or turkey stock.
* Add 1 cup of HOMEMADE chicken or turkey stock. (Click here for stock recipe.)
* Add the vegetable.
* Cook it uncovered, until the leaves obtain that beautiful dark-green yet bright color.

The lard is very easily obtained: make the stock, put it in the fridge, and the next day the lard will be at the top.

Any bitterness of the greens is sweetened, in a magnificent way, by the taste of the poultry.

The beautiful, long leaves of the dandelion plant are less popular here in America than the other above-named greens. But in the supermarket I do find it. I remove most of the stems, but if you want to cook them, cut them in little pieces and cook them a good 10 minutes before adding the leaves.

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