Pork, Clams, and Greens

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by Chef Jody Adams Braised pork belly with spring green crostini, littlenecks, pancetta and fiddleheads

Yield: Makes 4 entrée servings

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Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves sliced paper-thin
  • 4 cups assorted leafy greens such as chard, spinach, Tuscan kale, beet greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens (Use a combination of sweet, spicy and bitter greens for a varied flavor.) Wash well and trim all greens of tough stems before measuring
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices 1/2-inch rustic bread toasted
  • 1/2 lb. fiddlehead ferns trimmed of any split, broken or dirty stems
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 3/4 lbs. braised fresh pork belly cut into 4 equal pieces, recipe follows (optional)
  • 2 ounces pancetta in thin slices cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 20 littleneck clams (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add half the garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high. Add the hardiest greens with 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and half the Aleppo or red pepper and cook until the greens wilt and all the moisture has cooked off. Add the softer greens and cook until they're completely wilted, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Cool and chop. Squeeze out any remaining liquid.
  3. To make the crostini, spoon one quarter of the greens on top of each of the 4 toasts and set the crostini on a sheet pan. Reserve.
  4. Drop the fiddleheads into a bowl of room temperature water. Swirl with your hand to remove the brown papery parts of the fern.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it's heating prepare a bowl of ice water. Season the boiling water with salt. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and cook 10 seconds. Scoop out the tomatoes and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes into 1/2 inch dice. Set aside.
  6. Add the fiddleheads to the boiling water and blanch until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the fiddleheads into the ice water to stop them from cooking.
  7. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. If using, season the braised pork belly with salt and pepper and sear on the top and bottom until crispy. If you are not using the pork belly, add the pancetta directly to the pan with the olive oil. Transfer to the sheet pan with the greens crostini. Add the pancetta to the pan with the olive oil and cook until the fat begins to melt and it starts to get crispy, about 4 minutes. Add the onions, season with salt and the remaining Aleppo or red pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook until it's aromatic, just a minute. Add the clams and white wine, cover, and cook until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fiddleheads and heat through. If you have braising juices and you'd like the dish to be a bit soupier, add some or all of them to the pan now.
  8. Slip the sheet pan into the oven when you add the clams to the pan.
  9. Set the crostini in the center of 4 warm large shallow soup bowls. Put a piece of fresh bacon on top, if using. Add the parsley to the pan and then spoon the clams, fiddleheads, tomatoes and juices around the crostini. Serve immediately.

Tips/Techniques

This segment appears in show #2701. Recipe courtesy of Jody Adams © 2002 Jody Adams/Rialto
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