Italian-Americans all fall in line on this dish, it’s well-loved and non-Italian-Americans who have eaten it feel the same way.  It’s a culinary hug.

1 thoroughly rinsed HEAD OF FRESH ESCAROLE (Escarole takes on lots of dirt..needs to be rinsed in fresh changes of water), then cut out the inside stem and chop.
1/4 cup OLIVE OIL – 1/2 TSP. PEPERONCINO
4 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC – KOSHER OR SEA SALT
2 CANS OF CANNELLINI (WHITE KIDNEY) BEANS, DRAINED AND RINSED
2 CUPS OF WATER (OR CHICKEN STOCK)
PECORINO ROMANO or PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE
OPTIONAL:
2 TBS. FINELY DICED PANCETTA, GUANCIALE, PROSCIUTTO, SAUSAGE, SALAMI
1 TBS. WHITE WINE
1 SMALL ANCHOVY FILET

In a heavy saucepan heat, 1/8 cup of the olive oil then add the peperoncino and let that cook for 2 minutes.  This releases the flavors and heat in the peperoncino and gives them a toasty flavor, Then add the garlic and let this cook on medium for no more than 1 1/2minutes…add the escarole and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let this saute’ for 5 minutes till it’s somewhat softer and wilted. Now add the water or stock.  Stir and then add the beans.  Bring to a boil for 4 minutes then to medium, just above a simmer.  Stir well and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
This tastes better when it’s not piping hot. Check for seasoning (salt) at this point. When serving drizzle each serving with additional olive oil, some peperoncino if you like and a good grating of one of the cheeses.
Now if you want the less traditional version, simply add the cured pork or sausage when you toasting the peperoncino at the beginning of the recipe.  Add the anchovy when you add the garlic, then the white wine and continue with the recipe.

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