Friday, May 17, 2024

Web Xtra: Deconstructing the Dish

Pizzaholics know that Tucci’s makes some of the best and tastiest pies around. I too love the pizzas that come out of Albert Aletto’s coal-fired oven, but lately my taste buds just can’t stop jonesing for one of his other creations, the kind of lusty, soul-satisfying dish you don’t find much on restaurant menus anymore—sautéed escarole with cannellini beans and sausage.

There are no culinary sleights of hand here, just quality ingredients prepared simply and with care and presented in all their unpretentious, uncomplicated glory. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

ESCAROLE & BEANS WITH SAUSAGE

Albert Aletto, chef-owner, Tucci’s

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 ounce red onion, thinly sliced

Olive oil

6 ounces cooked cannellini beans with liquid

1 to 1-1/2 heads escarole, woody stems trimmed and leaves chopped in large pieces

2 links sweet Italian sausage

1/2 cup chicken stock (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss garlic cloves with olive oil, place on a sheet pan and roast in a 350- to 400-degree oven until soft and caramelized. Set aside. Place sausages on sheet pan and roast in oven, turning occasionally, until done, approximately 20-25 minutes. Let cool and slice thinly.

Add olive oil to pot, sauté red onion until soft, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add cannellini beans and liquid to pot and sauté until heated through. Add escarole and toss to coat with oil and wilt slightly. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. If mixture seems dry, add chicken stock or additional bean liquid. Add sliced sausage, heat through and serve.

CHEF’S TIPS

It’s okay to use canned beans if you don’t feel like taking the trouble to cook dried beans from scratch. Just be sure not to cook them to mush.

Don’t worry if your garlic cloves get a little charred in the roasting process. Caramelization improves their flavor.

Use a deep pot to cook the escarole in, as a large volume of greens will overflow a sauté pan and make it difficult to cook all the pieces evenly. Don’t cook the escarole too much, though. It should be wilted but still retain some texture.

If you can’t find escarole in your local market, kale or bok choy make good substitutes.

It’s worth searching out premium Italian sausages. Aletto says some supermarket brands are more fat than pork. In a dish this simple, every ingredient counts.

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