Sunday, January 27, 2013

Radicchio? Put a Pig On It

You can go out in a field at this time of year and find rows of blackened, slimy lumps (photo, lower left) where, presumably, there once were lush heads of some delicious leafy thing. You think, "How sad…what a waste." But reach down your (thankfully, gloved) hand, cut it off at the stem, wipe away the gunk and you'll discover a brilliant red head of radicchio or its cousin, treviso, that has matured and sweetened in the freezing temperatures. Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food has a suggestion for one way to appreciate these gems.

Adapted from Elizabeth Minchelli, this is a great reason for buying more salami than you think you can eat. If you follow Minchelli’s links back to the recipe that inspired her, you’ll see you can make it with fresh sausage, too.

Winter radicchio: yucky on the outside, gorgeous on the inside.

I had a 2-inch stub of leftover salami from one of our local salume makers (I think it was Olympic Provisions) and a couple of tablespoon’s worth of chopped-up cooked bacon. You could also use ham, pancetta or even crispy chicken skin, which is sort of porky.

Roasted Radicchio Stuffed with Porky Bits

Cut the salami (about a 2" stub, casing removed) into small cubes, then mix in a couple of tablespoons of bacon and dice it all together until quite small (Minchelli uses the food processor, but I didn’t want to clean mine for such a small job). If you use some other porky bits, chop 'em up fine.

Quarter the radicchio (the more common round, tight-leaf head variety; long-leaved, loose heads of Treviso radicchio (right) would work, too), keeping the core intact to hold the leaves together. Gently pull the leaves apart enough to slip some of the chopped meat inside; stuff about a teaspoon of the meat  into 3 or 4 spots in each quarter head of radicchio.

Then roast in a skillet or something similar: drizzle a little oil on the bottom first, and drizzle a bit more over the radicchio after it’s in the skillet. A sprinkle of flor de sal helps, too. Cook at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until the edges of the leaves are looking dark and a little crispy. Eat it with a knife and fork, maybe with another drizzle of extra virgin.

Photo at top by Jim Dixon. Photos of winter radicchio taken at Ayers Creek Farm.

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