It's fascinating to observe how recipe authors name their dishes. Some are more succinct than others; some verbose, rattling on as if the impact of the dish was achieved in its name alone.
There's poetic grace in being selective, even cryptic.
This dish owes its heritage to Portugal--a basic hard green and sausage stew, thickened with potatoes. But the potatoes in the pantry were past their prime and my hangover was disorienting enough that in haste and poor apprehension I grabbed a head of green lettuce instead of escarole.
Years ago I remember watching one of the proprietors of a restaurant where I worked tear leaves of wilted lettuce into a vegetable soup, wondering, "what is that dogshit crazy sexual predator doing?" But it turns out the soft greens can work quite well in soups. What they lack in spine they make up for in silkiness. So having given over to the risk of making a lettuce stew I upped the ante by tearing up a bit of stale bread and cooking it into the liquid. Silkier still.
Not the kind of modifier you expect to see tacked onto a Portuguese sausage stew, but that's the charm. If its your thing--as it is mine, you can ratchet up the contradiction even further with a sharp belt from hot chilies.
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
2 chicken backs (a few thighs, legs or wings would work alternately)
1 tbsp smoked hot paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 guajillo chilies, rehydrated, chopped finely
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 1/2 c cooked white kidney beans
1 head green lettuce, washed and chopped
1-2 tbsp flour
1 heel of stake bread
2 quarts roasted vegetable stock (or water)
In a dutch oven brown the sausage and chicken on all sides, then set aside. Add the aromatics (the next six ingredients) and cook til well colored. Add the beans and lettuce, cooking til lettuce wilts--it'll only take a moment.
Chop the sausage into bite size pieces--it will still be raw at the center, and add to the pot, followed by the chicken parts. Cover with flour and stir together over medium high heat.
Add stock and bread, then bring to a simmer. Adjust chili heat as you season. I served it with toast smeared with Saint Agur blue. One more spiky note to gild the contrast.