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Braised White Bean & Escarole Ragout with Lemon Simple Syrup

Related Ingredients
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Tasting Notes

Cooking escarole's hearty green leaves mellows out its bitter flavor, but it still keeps enough edge to balance the rich and creamy beans in the ragu.

Sun-dried tomatoes and white balsamic vinegar perk up the acidity from the greens, bits of ham hock add richness, and garlic and oregano contribute spice. Beans and greens are a classic, rustic dish, but Michael Mina elevates them with the addition of delicate, sweet and sour lemon supremes that have been soaked in lemon syrup. These little bursts of flavor take the dish from homey to haute.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Spin cycle. Escarole can be really sandy, so be sure to clean your greens thoroughly and dry them to remove excess moisture before you begin to cook.
  2. Looking fine. The finer you chop your garlic, the more flavor you’ll get from it. Escarole has a strong enough flavor to stand up to finely chopped garlic.
  3. Tomato tip. Wait until the broth is hot before adding the sun-dried tomatoes, this will ensure that the ragout absorbs its flavors evenly.

Toolbox

This tool is one we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Salad spinner. Since escarole can be really sandy, it’s best to wash it 2 to 3 times. Using a salad spinner quickens the process of washing and drying the leaves.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

  • Small bowl
  • Salad spinner
  • Medium sauté pan
  • Rubber spatula
  • Cutting board and knife


Ingredients

For the Lemon Simple Syrup: 

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 lemon

For the Braised Escarole with Beans:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup Braised White Beans
  • 1 head escarole (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup cooked, diced ham hock (from Bean Recipe)
  • 4 pieces sundried tomatoes, chopped, about 1½ tablespoon
  • ¾ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ cup bean cooking liquid (from Bean Recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon simple syrup (recipe above)
  • Lemon segments (from Lemon Simple Syrup Recipe)

Serves: 4

Total Time: 35 minutes, plus soaking lemons overnight

Active Time: Lemon Syrup takes 10 minutes plus waiting overnight; escarole takes 25 minutes

Method

For the Lemon Simple Syrup: 

  1. Prepare lemon supremes: Remove the rind and pith from the outside of the lemon, and then carefully cut the lemon segments away from the membranes and remove all seeds. The delicate, seedless, pith-free and membrane-free wedges are the supremes.
  2. Place lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Add the lemon supremes, cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

For the Braised Escarole with Beans:

  1. Warm the olive oil over medium heat in medium sauté pan. Add the garlic and toast, stirring frequently, until the garlic turns to a golden color. Add the cooked white beans and escarole and stir to coat with oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until escarole starts to become tender. Add diced ham hock, sundried tomatoes, oregano and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine.
  2. Add bean liquid a ¼ cup at a time, ensuring that vegetables are wet, but not soupy.
  3. Continue cooking until beans are heated through and liquid has reduced slightly. The liquid should come about one third of the way up the beans. Add the lemon simple syrup and adjust with salt to taste.
  4. Pour into serving bowl and top with lemon segments.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Roasted chicken with a braised white bean escarole

Roast chicken breasts with the skin on and serve with the braised escarole.

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