Let’s talk for a minute about recipes. I certainly use a lot of other people’s recipes and this blog is built upon sharing my recipes with you. Unfortunately a lot of talented chefs with big ideas can’t write a recipe for the life of them. Nothing is worse than finding a recipe you want to try, buying all the ingredients and then setting out in the kitchen, only to find it’s hard to follow and you can’t possibly imagine how it’s going to turn out all right.
I try to make recipes and clear and simple as possible, so below you will find a recipe for stuffed escarole, decoded from Bocca’s cookbook.
I’ve also created a downloadable shopping list for you. Here: Stuffed Escarole Shopping List
You may have a bit of trouble finding kitchen twine at the bodega, but any fancy kitchen store should have it…not to mention most large grocery stores. Bowery Kitchen supply in Chelsea Market has it, as does whole foods.
Stuffed Escarole with Anchovies, Pine Nuts and Rasins
You will need:
Thick kitchen twine (about 3 ft)
2 large and stout escarole heads (make sure all the leaves are attached to the heart at the bottom)
6 anchovies from a can (in oil)
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
3/4 cup golden raisins *yes, they have to be golden
1/2 cup pine nuts (normally I would offer a substitute for these expensive nuts, but in this case, it’s gotta be pine nuts)
1/4 cup olive oil *approximately
1. Wash and dry the escarole, using a paper towel to gently wash the leaves in the center, removing all the dirt. Place one of the escarole bunches on a flat surface like a cutting board with the stem down so the leaves open up like a flower.
2. Set out your stuffing ingredients in three piles or bowls for easy access. Take 3 of the anchovies and slide them between the center leaves in three different places. Alternating between nuts, garlic and raisins, stuff small handfuls between the leaves, sticking mostly to the center leaves, but also working your way to the outer leaves. *Use about ½ of the ingredients as you will be repeating this again. Make sure to push the stuffing towards the stem, keeping in mind you will use the twine to tie the tops of the leaves together like a pony tail.
3. Grab a friend. Have them gather the tops of the leaves together and hold them in place with their fingers while you take a 20 inch piece of twine and tie it once arounce the bottom, knotting it but leaving the majority of the string to continue winding around the escarole. Wind around tightly and knot at the top end.
4. In a Dutch oven (le cruset) or just a large pot that isn’t too tall with a lid, heat about 1 tbs of the olive oil over medium heat. Place the bundle of stuffed escarole on it’s side and brown, turning once every minute with tongs so that it gets some nice color. Remove and set aside.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the other escarole bunch.
6. In the same pot, put both escarole heads side by side over low heat. Pour water into the pot so it comes up to about 1 inch, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Check every ten minutes or so to make sure all the water doesn’t evaporate. It should be the perfect amount for the escarole to absorb and cook, but if the pot is dry, sprinkle a bit more.
7. To serve, let your guests use a scissors to cut through the string to the delicious escarole enclosed.