Greens

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My appreciation for greens has definitely developed over time.  I didn’t really grow up eating them down in South Texas, I’m talking wayyyy South Texas, and surely didn’t know how to cook them.  After a couple… interesting attempts in cooking greens (ask my sister about her misadventure with red pepper sometime!) and finding a couple places that I now must always order them (looking at you Max’s Wine Dive) I have created a recipe that works for me and Will.

You caught that, right?  This recipe is what works for us.  Greens aren’t very “technical” but more of a process that you feel out until you find what you like.  We prefer a tangy, spicy batch of greens so there is quite a bit of vinegar and some dried peppers here.  When it’s all said and done there is typically a shot of Tabasco or pepper sauce shaken over the top of the bowl.  You can also play with the fat base by swapping out the bacon for pancetta, ham hock, leftover turkey legs from Thanksgiving dinner, or skipping it all together for a vegetarian option (in which case you would sub the chicken stock for veggie stock as well).

So how do you like your greens? Let me know what tricks you have when cooking them or the places you like to order greens.


Greens

  • 1-2 bunches of any green – collard, mustard, turnip
  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • chicken stock, up to 1 quart
  • 2-3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 dried peppers, such as chile de arbol
  • 1-2 T sugar

Rinse the greens well, as they are often pretty gritty.  An easy way to do this is to simply fill your kitchen sink with cool water, chop off the very base of the greens to separate the individual leaves, then submerge the leaves into the water. The grit will fall to the bottom of the sink while your clean leaves stay at the top.

A quick note on the greens: any green will work.  For this recipe, I found both mustard (picture on the left) and collards (pictured on the right) that looked good, so I used a bunch of both!

Leave your knife tucked away for now and just tear off the leafy greens from the stems, trimming the leaves into strips and leaving some small stems.  The easiest way I have found is to fold the leaf in half over the stem and rip from the base of the leaf up towards the top.  Once the whole leaf is removed from the stem I just shred the leaf up a bit. Will’s not a fan of the stems, but I like a few so as I tear I may leave a few of the thinner stems in the mix.  As the greens cook, the stems leave a little “bite” to the dish.

Give the greens another rinse in cool water just for good measure then set them aside to dry a bit as you proceed.

In a large, heavy pot saute the bacon. Or the pancetta.  Or brown up the ham hock/turkey leg a bit, letting some of the meat fall off into the pot.  If you are skipping the meat on this one, drizzle some olive oil around the pot to get your veggies started sauteing.  Once your fat of choice starts browning, toss in the onions and garlic and season with black pepper (add salt if not using meat).  Saute until the veggies are tender.

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Working with a handful at a time, add the greens to the pot.  They will start to release water and shrink up as they cook down.  Stir and add more handfuls until all the greens are in the pot.

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Cover the greens with chicken/vegetable stock.  Depending on how many bunches of greens you started with this may take up to a quart of stock. Add a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar.  I also like to add a tablespoon or so of Worcestershire sauce here for a little depth of flavor and color. Season with salt and pepper and add your heat – red pepper flakes and/or dried peppers.  I like both.  I add about a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 2-3 dried chile de arbol.  Play around with the heat, but remember 1) that we like spicier greens and 2) that the spice will develop as the greens cook so you may want to start on the lighter side and add as you go.

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Add 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar.  This will help to balance some of the bitterness of the greens.

The stock is now developing into what is called pot liquor (or sometimes spelled pot likker).  Bring the pot liquor up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and put a lid on the pot.

Simmer for an hour or two, tasting the pot liquor as it cooks, adjusting the seasoning and vinegar/heat levels to your liking and checking the tenderness of the greens.

The greens can continue to cook as long as you like until they reach your desired tenderness.  On average, I typically cook them for a couple of hours.

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What do you like about greens?  Are you a tangy or a spicy greens lover?  What do you do with your leftover greens? Leave me a comment with your opinions – and stay tuned for a great greens leftover recipe!


Full Recipe

Greens

  • 1-2 bunches of any green – collard, mustard, turnip
  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • chicken stock, up to 1 quart
  • 2-3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 dried peppers, such as chile de arbol
  • 1-2 T sugar

Rinse the greens well, often they are pretty gritty.

Tear the leafy parts off the stems, trimming into strips and leaving some small stems.

Set the greens aside and let them dry a bit.

In a large, heavy pot saute the bacon.

When the bacon starts getting some color, toss in the onions & garlic.

Saute until the veggies are tender.

Working a handful or two at a time, add the greens to the pot, they will start to release water and cook down.

Stir and add more handfuls until all greens are in the pot.

Cover the greens with chicken stock.  Depending on how many bunches you started with this may take up to a quart.  

Add a healthy splash (a couple tablespoons) of apple cider vinegar and/or Worcestershire.  

Add salt & pepper, red pepper flakes and dried peppers to your taste.  *Keep in mind that the spice will develop as it simmers, so you may want to go light on the heat at first.

Add 1-2 T sugar to balance the bitterness of the greens.

Let the stock, aka pot liquor, come up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and put a lid on the pot.  

Simmer for about an hour or two, tasting the pot liquor as it cooks and adjusting seasoning to your preference.

The greens can continue to cook until they are as tender as you like them.

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