♪♪ -"Cook's Country" is about more than just getting dinner on the table.
We're also fascinated by the people and stories behind the dishes.
We go inside kitchens in every corner of the country to learn how real people cook, and we look back through time to see how history influences the way we eat today.
We bring that inspiration back to our test kitchen so we can share it with you.
This is "Cook's Country."
♪♪ Today on "Cook's Country," Lawman makes Transylvania goulash, Jack takes a deep dive into heirloom beans, I talk all about a favorite bitter green escarole, and Christie cooks a Pennsylvania classic -- beans and greens.
And that's all right here on "Cook's Country."
♪♪ ♪♪ -One Friday of every month, Alexander Jozsa Bodnar would host a Hungarian feast at his restaurant called Jozsa Corner.
Everything at the Pittsburgh restaurant was made from scratch, including the bread, the kielbasa, and along with the various types of paprikash on the menu, Bodnar also served székelykáposzta, or what Alex would call Transylvanian goulash.
And Lawman's here, and he's gonna show us how to make this very interesting and great dish.
-Bridget, the only thing scary about Transylvania goulash is how scary good it is.
-[ Chuckles ] -For me, stews -- they're like the culinary equivalent of a homemade quilt.
-This particular one has braised pork... -Mmm!
-...aromatics, warm spices, a duo of tangy sour cream, sauerkraut.
-And it finishes with a bright herb.
-I am very intrigued.
-So let's make some goulash.
-Still a little scared, though.
-You'll be alright.
-[ Laughs ] -So to start, I'm gonna prep some vegetables.
-I have one onion here.
I'm gonna chop this fine.
Next, we have bell pepper.
Just gonna stem, seed it, and chop this fine as well.
Two ribs of celery.
And last but not least, just one tomato.
-A single tomato?
-And we're just gonna chop this.
-So, next, we're gonna prep our pork.
Here I have one 3-1/2-pound boneless pork butt.
It's also known as a Boston butt.
It's perfect for stews.
The collagen breaks down because of the low, slow cooking, becomes super tender.
It's gonna be delicious.
-So I'm just gonna pat it dry.
And you want to cut it into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
My trusty ruler here.
-With the fat cap and everything.
-Since this has a really big fat cap, I'm gonna trim some of it off.
It can be hard to tell, though.
Before you cut into the pork butt, sometimes you can't tell exactly how thick that fat cap is.
So you don't want a fat cap that's more than 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch, which is why we're trimming this one off.
So you cut your planks, now strips.
-And you want to cut it into 1-1/2-inch pieces.
-We do this a lot with stews, where we'll cut the stew meat into super-large pieces because they're going to fall apart as they stew and braise.
If you start off with teeny-tiny pieces, you kind of end up with a hash.
-I don't know if you're gonna be attacking vampires or anything, but this is a very hearty stew.
-Why would I attack my own people?
-[ Laughs ] So now that we have the pork cut, we're gonna season it with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
-And we want to develop a lot of flavor for the stew, so we're gonna brown the meat to develop some fond.
-You don't want to put it all in the pot at the same time, because instead of browning it's gonna steam.
-I have a Dutch oven here with 1 tablespoon of veg oil in it.
And we're gonna heat it to medium-high heat till it's just smoking, and then we're gonna add our meat.
-I'm gonna cook it for a total of eight minutes, about two minutes per side, then I'm gonna take this out, and then we're gonna brown the second batch the same way.
So the second batch is ready to come out of the pot.
Mmm, mmm, mmm.
Oh, look at all that fond there in the bottom of the pot.
That's pork flavor.
-That's what I was gonna say.
That fond is flavor.
Now we're gonna reduce the heat to medium, add our vegetables.
Remember, it's onion, bell pepper, two celery ribs, and some tomato.
Along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
And we're gonna cook this 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables soften and the liquid is evaporated, scraping up some of the browned bits.
It's been about nine minutes.
The vegetables are softened.
This is when we're gonna really punch up the flavor.
I'm gonna add 3 tablespoons of paprika.
Now, you don't want to add hot or smoked Spanish paprika because that's not the flavor profile we're going for here.
-So this is just regular sweet paprika.
-Then 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds.
-And 2 minced garlic cloves.
Then you're gonna stir and cook for about one minute until it's fragrant, scraping up all that fond.
So this is the part in the stew where a lot of times you add a broth.
-But instead of that, we're gonna add 3 cups of water, and we're adding water because we want all these flavors to come through without any hindrance.
-Well, I love this because the pork is gonna have a chance to shine, but the caraway and the paprika -- you really want that to be the star of the show.
That's looking gorgeous.
-Now we're gonna add our pork and the juices.
And just gonna bring this to a simmer.
It's just come up to a simmer.
I'm gonna cover.
We're gonna put it in a 325-degree oven on the lower middle rack, and we're gonna cook for one hour.
♪♪ -[ Sniffs ] Ah!
-It's been an hour.
Now we're gonna add 2 cups of rinsed and drained sauerkraut.
We're adding it because we want some bright flavor that's gonna help balance out that rich pork.
If we didn't rinse it, it would be too bright, and it would be competing with the pork.
-And we're adding it toward the end of the cook time because we don't want it to cook so long that you don't get any of that flavor.
-Let's just give it a stir, mix it in there.
-[ Sniffs ] Oh, that smells good.
-Now we're gonna cook it for another 30 minutes until the pork is nice and tender.
So it's been 30 minutes.
Time to check the tenderness of the pork.
-My favorite way to do this is just take a fork, take a little piece.
-If you can break it with the fork, you know it's tender.
Then you give it a taste test.
You know it seasons well.
This is perfect.
So before we eat, I'm just gonna skim a little bit of the fat off the top, just so it's not eating fatty.
-That's actually not bad.
You did a great job of trimming that pork.
So now let's give you some.
-Last but not least, gonna give you a little dollop of sour cream.
-This is also gonna balance out that rich pork, and it's gonna help accentuate that sauerkraut that's already in there.
-I'm digging those little dollops.
-[ Chuckles ] And then a little brightness with some fresh dill.
-That is perfect.
-Let's dig in.
That is tender.
This is so good.
The pork and the sauerkraut together -- amazing.
You get that pickly bite there.
I'm switching over to a spoon, though.
-That paprika is nice and warm, dare I say comforting.
-When you can cut the meat with a spoon, you know it's tender.
And it -- what?
It was in for an hour and then 30 minutes?
That's actually a fast stew.
-Good thing there's only a little bit of garlic in there.
-Just a little bit.
Oh, I'll get you back.
-Just enough to keep you honest.
-If you'd like to make this beautiful stew from Pittsburgh, build a flavor base for the stew by browning pork, bloom the paprika for a minute with the vegetables, and stir in rinsed sauerkraut at the end for a pickly finish.
So from "Cook's Country," all the way from Pittsburgh, it's Transylvanian goulash.
The sauerkraut is killer.
-This is scary great.
-[ Laughs ] Scary great.
♪♪ -So we're here to talk about heirloom beans.
I know you're thinking these are just fancy beans and Jack's excited about them because they're pretty.
But the thing that makes them beautiful is also the thing that makes them delicious.
The genes that control color and speckling or modeling are related to the genes that control flavor.
And you know I'm all about the flavor, and these beans are really exciting.
I don't mean to say that the cannellini beans or the black beans that you probably have in your pantry are boring, but maybe they're a little boring compared to what I have in front of me on the table.
Now, heirloom beans are basically beans that aren't commodity beans, that are grown by farmers on a small scale, often in small regions.
In our taste tests, and we tasted dozens of varieties here, we noticed some common themes where the heirloom beans differed from their commodity brothers and sisters.
First off, they cook faster.
So commodity beans, as the name might imply, are sort of held until the price is right.
And often those beans that you're buying in the supermarket can be three, four, or five years old.
There's no real difference except think of them as super-dried beans.
Heirloom beans are generally sold the year that they're grown.
They want to get rid of the crop before next crop comes in.
And so they're a bit fresher, which means they will cook faster.
Not really a difference, one better than the other.
But it's important to know that if you're using a recipe that was developed with a commodity bean and then using a heirloom bean instead, it will cook faster.
Second thing is the flavor variations are much more interesting within the heirloom beans.
They have all kinds of wild things going on that are actually related to the color, which is probably what draws you into the heirloom beans.
I mean, look what's in front of me here.
Last thing is the texture of the heirloom beans was a little different than the commodity beans.
They were more melt -in-your-mouth and creamy, while your standard white bean or black bean that you could buy typically in the supermarket is what I would call more dense.
So no value judgments here.
We liked pretty much everything we tasted, including the commodity beans.
But I've chosen four of the heirloom beans that I particularly liked, and let me just tell you a little bit about them.
Let me start with these from North Bay Trading Company in the Great Lakes.
These are Christmas lima beans.
They are absolutely beautiful.
They have mushroom, vegetal, grassy notes.
They'd be lovely in a sort of simple bean side dish.
Here are the Rancho Gordo Mayocobas.
Now, Rancho Gordo is probably the best known company in the heirloom business.
It's a California company that sources beans from small farmers, the West Coast and in Mexico.
And these tastes like candied bacon.
Yeah, cured meat and a little bit of sweetness.
They would be so good in pasta e fagioli.
The big boys here, these also come from Rancho Gordo.
These are Royal Corona beans.
I would leave these alone in terms of preparation and do less, and so maybe olive oil, salt, and lemon juice.
They are super creamy, a little bit of nuttiness, absolutely delicious.
And finally, these are from Idaho.
Look at these little beauties.
This is a company called Zursun.
These are their snow cap beans.
They have kind of a chestnuty flavor.
They will be a little mealy if you undercook them, so make sure you fully cook them so that they're velvety and creamy.
So there you have it, just four of my favorite heirloom beans, and they're definitely worth seeking out.
♪♪ -Today I'm making a shredded Swiss chard salad.
It's really important how you prep the Swiss chard.
So you want to cut away any stems thicker than 1/4 inch because they can be tough in a salad.
You want to cut the leaves in half lengthwise, then slice them into thin ribbons crosswise.
That nice shredded texture is really good in a salad.
Make a quick vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, some red wine vinegar, minced shallot, some fig preserves, a little whole grain mustard, and salt and pepper.
Add our shredded Swiss chard, some fresh basil, some toasted walnuts, some crumbled blue cheese, and a little torn prosciutto.
You just want to toss to get everything nice and coated in that vinaigrette.
Let's take this up a notch.
I'm gonna transfer to a platter and sprinkle with some more blue cheese, some more walnuts, and more torn prosciutto.
And here we go, a beautiful salad made with an unexpected green.
♪♪ -At "Cook's Country" our beans and greens recipe calls for escarole, a peppery, slightly bitter green that holds up well to braising.
Escarole is in the chicory family, which includes other bitter greens like radicchio, endive, and frisée.
Escarole was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and later grown by the Greeks and Romans.
The Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder considered it both a medicinal plant and a flavorful salad green.
When Italian immigrants made their way to Western Pennsylvania at the end of the 19th century, they brought the leafy vegetable with them.
Today, escarole is popular in salads, stews, and braised on its own.
We love it with beans.
♪♪ -Beans and greens, or scarola e fagioli in Italian, is a simple but hearty dish that is popular in and around Pittsburgh, and that's because in the 19th century, many people from Southern Italy immigrated to Pittsburgh for jobs in the steel industry.
Now, this simple recipe has withstood the test of time because it's inexpensive, healthy, and delicious, and today, Christie's going to show us how it's done.
-Julia, this is one of those classic recipes that's born out of necessity, but then really takes on an identity of its own.
-Braising or wilting the greens increases their tenderness and minimizes their bitterness.
And you can really make beans and greens with all sorts of greens -- broccoli rabe, spinach.
Today we're using escarole.
-Oh, it's my favorite.
-It's great, it is.
But first, we're gonna start by building kind of an aromatic base to enhance the flavors.
-So I have 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and I'll heat this over medium-high heat just until it shimmers.
-Now, I like that you're using a nice big pot, because one thing about making this dish is you start with a lot of greens and it fills the pot, but they wilt down.
-They certainly do.
So we'll build our savory base, starting with one onion that I've chopped fine.
And I'll add 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.
Now, some beans and greens start with meats or other vegetables, sometimes peppers.
We really wanted to keep this simple.
-Yeah, I've seen recipes that sometimes add tomatoes.
They sometimes add sausage or meat or even banana peppers.
But it looks like you're going straight old school.
-This is old school.
We're gonna let the flavors of the greens and the beans really stand out.
So I'm just gonna sauté these until they soften and they're starting to brown, and that'll take about 5 to 7 minutes.
In the meantime, let's talk about the escarole.
-That's a beautiful head of escarole.
This is about a pound, one head to yield that.
It's kind of loose and so you really want to make sure you wash it well.
First I'm gonna prep it.
So I'm gonna cut out the core and it just sort of falls open.
You might have a little bit of the inner core that you want to chop out.
-You can even see the dirt down in that leaf.
-And that's why you like to prep it, then wash it.
You really get it clean.
Because you can't -- it's hard to get deep down in there just by sticking the whole head under the water.
So I'm just gonna cut this into 2-inch pieces, certainly not super precise, but that will make the cooking more even.
And I'm gonna start loading this up into my salad spinner.
-You know, I didn't own a salad spinner for a long time 'cause I thought they were just a waste of space.
I used to try to dry the lettuce leaves in all manners.
I used towels, I used a pillowcase.
Oh, and then I got a salad spinner.
I was like, "Why did I hold off for so long?"
I now have three salad spinners.
I think they're that important.
-[ Laughs ] No, they're great, and we don't have to get them super dry for this recipe because we're gonna be braising the greens.
Alright, so I'm gonna take this over to the sink.
We'll give it a good wash and drain it.
I'll fill up the bowl with some cold water and I'll just start swishing as soon as we get some water in there to kind of dislodge any of the sediment or dirt that's lodged between the leaves.
So we can just lift it out and give it a few shakes to get off any residual water.
And we're ready to spin.
[ Chuckles ] So this is ready to go.
-Let's take a look at those onions.
We're getting some nice browning.
I have a few more aromatics to add.
Of course, a little garlic, right?
I have three cloves.
-Just a little.
-[ Laughs ] Three cloves that I've minced.
I have a teaspoon of chopped rosemary.
-So nice with white beans.
-And then 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to say hello to us.
-1/2 a teaspoon?
Again, I mean, this is an Italian dish.
It's Southern Italian, right?
It's gonna have a little kick.
-So you just want to sauté those until we can smell them, about 30 seconds.
Do you get the rosemary?
-Now I do.
Oh, that smells good.
Alright, final ingredient before we get the greens in there is 1/2 a cup of chicken broth, and this is just gonna give us a nice savory base.
It's gonna flavor the greens.
It's also going to flavor the beans.
-That's actually not a lot of broth.
I've seen recipes that add cups -- almost turns the dish into a soup.
So that's a really restrained amount of broth.
-It is, it is.
And I'm actually gonna turn my heat down now to about medium-low.
And I'm gonna add my greens.
Now, figuring out the timing for this was really important because we want the greens to get tender, but we don't want them to turn too mush.
-So cover this.
Let it simmer on medium-low for between 6 and 8 minutes until the greens just start to wilt, and I'll go in there and stir it every so often so I can keep an eye on them.
Alright, it's been about 8 minutes.
Let's take a peek.
-Just wilted down.
They're just kind of braising in that broth and all those wonderful flavors.
So now we can add the beans.
This is one can, a 15-ounce can of cannellini beans that I've rinsed and drained.
And we're gonna let this hang out a little bit uncovered now for about 5 minutes.
So, the greens have wilted, but they're not quite tender yet, so I'm gonna give them a little more time, and we want the beans to have time to hang out in that chicken broth with all those flavors to really infuse and taste wonderful.
-So just 5 more minutes.
This smells so good.
So, we can cut the heat.
And I'm gonna add some Parmesan cheese.
We have plenty of Parm.
Right now, I'm gonna add a 1/4 cup.
-That's how my mother cooks.
Right before she serves anything, shredded Parm goes in there.
-Oh, get it in.
-Yeah, well, you know what?
It thickens up sauces, it thickens up soups, adds a little body, adds some flavor.
-Right, because it was just broth in there and any moisture from the greens.
So it does give this sauce a little body, gives the whole thing a little body, and obviously, some great flavor.
I'm gonna just taste it to see if we need any salt or pepper.
I just want to taste it first.
-[ Laughs ] -Mmm.
And you get those red pepper flakes.
-[ Laughs ] Got you.
I saw the red pepper flake dance.
-The red pepper flake shimmy.
Alright, if I lift this up, do you mind scooping some out?
-That looks beautiful.
Is that my bowl?
[ Both laugh ] I could easily eat all of that.
-This is easily one of my favorite dishes.
-I know, for lunch, for dinner, as a side.
I mean, I just have this and some crusty bread or some grilled bread.
-That sounds delicious.
-But we're gonna gild the lily a little bit here.
Gonna add a little more Parm.
Our recipe says 1/4 cup, but... -[ Chuckles ] Plus extra for serving.
-It's just a guide, really.
That part of it, I think, is kind of a guide.
-I love it when you put Parm over something hot and you see the Parm start to melt.
It's gonna be a good dinner.
-It's one of those days I really love my job.
-[ Laughs ] -And we'll drizzle a little more extra virgin olive oil over the top.
-This is when you want to pull out the good stuff, the olive oil that has a really good fruity flavor.
Now, may I serve you?
-That broth that collects on the bottom.
-Mm-hmm, you're gonna spoon a little of that over the top, right?
-Oh, I'm so happy right now.
-[ Laughs ] Sometimes this is served over a bed of, like, fresh greens.
It's just one way to serve it, but I kind of feel like this is just a simple -- I mean, you seem to be happy.
-This is delicious!
I really love the little bit of rosemary in there.
I've never had that in beans and greens before.
It has a lovely fragrance.
It really brings out the flavor of the escarole.
I also love that you used canned beans.
I'm a big fan of canned beans 'cause they're so convenient.
It makes a dish like this come together in a snap for a weeknight.
-And cooking the beans in the broth and with the aromatics, they almost taste like they've been cooking there for a long time.
-They sure do.
Christie, this is delicious.
-I'm so happy to make this for you.
-So there you have it.
If you want to make a classic recipe for beans and greens, start by using escarole.
Cover the pot to start, then finish with the pot uncovered and finish with some grated Parmesan for body and flavor.
From "Cook's Country," the Pittsburgh classic beans and greens.
You can find this recipe and all the recipes from this season, along with select episodes and product reviews, at our website, CooksCountry.com/tv.
We're gonna polish that off, aren't we?
-Doesn't stand a chance.
[ Both laugh ] ♪♪ ♪♪