Sometimes desperation, not necessity, is the mother of invention. How else might we come up with avocado fries as a substitute for french fries, mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, or even pulverized pork rinds for bread crumbs?
I mean, sure, we can do keto easily just by eating straight meat, cheese, and eggs, supported by vegetables, but sometimes we still crave those traditionally carb-based meals.
Thus, mac-n-cheese becomes cauliflower mac and cheese, fettuccine Alfredo is now spaghetti squash Alfredo, and pizza, well, just as with the real item (have you seen John Stewart’s clips on NY vs. Chicago pizza?!) there are many variations, from cauliflower crust pizza, to a crust with almond flour and cheese or psyllium husks, to one of my favorites, low-pepperoni pizza cups.
I’ve gotten pretty adept at reduxing recipes to make them keto-compliant – I love to cook, and I do enjoy a challenge. Well, yesterday’s catered lunch from the drug rep was a gut-busting repast of some local favorites:
Roasted chicken thighs (breaded):
Cheesy Baked Riggies:
and, one of my favorite local specialties, Utica Greens:
Now, for lunch, I brought in the last of my curried cauliflower and chicken soup, which was thick, creamy, and satisfying, but the greens really tempted me. Their carb count is higher than I’d like because of the bread crumb topping – I can accept the carbs from leafy greens, but cannot justify the bread crumbs.
I was inspired to ketofy this recipe by making keto crumbs with a blend of pork rinds crushed in the Nutribullet with fresh parsley, to that, I added a lot of shredded and grated parm and romano.
- 2 heads of escarole
- Olive oil
- 3 slices prosciutto
- 5 slices pancetta – prob about ¼ cup chopped pancetta
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
- Pickled hot peppers, chopped – prob about ¼ cup
- Red pepper flakes
- granulated garlic
- ½ cup chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- Parm and/or romano – shredded and grated, probably about ½ cup
- ½ cup pulverized pork rinds with minced parsley
- More cheese for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Mix together the shredded and grated cheeses and the pork rind mixture and set aside in a bowl.
- While the water is coming to a boil, chop the rough end off the heads of the escarole and let them soak in a large bowl of cold water to get rid of any dirt or grit. Take them out, squeeze out the water and roughly chop the two heads into strips.
- Once the water has come to a boil, drop the chopped escarole into the water. Let cook for 7 minutes, then drain and shock the greens into an ice water bath. Once cool, squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Brown the meats, starting with the pancetta. Once it is starting to brown up, add the chopped prosciutto. When they start to crisp up, add the chopped onion.
- When the onion is translucent and soft, add the chopped hot peppers, let cook for a few minutes, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic.
- Once the vegetables are cooked through, add the chopped escarole, breaking up any clumps. Stir and cook until the greens are heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and cook for 5 minutes.
- Spread the greens into an 8 in x 8 in baking dish and top with the bread crumb and cheese mixture, Bake for 15 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned.
- The heads of escarole I had were on the small side, probably equivalent to one very large head.
- Next time, I’ll be usiing a lot more chopped hot peppers. The balance between the peppadews and my friend’s homemade pickled Italian hots was nice when I tasted it, but I just needed more of both.