Cooking greens is one of my favorite fall and winter activities. I can’t wait for the first good
cold snap so I can go out to my garden and bring in a “mess of greens”. I grow and cook collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale and chard. While cooking up a “mess of greens” is thought of as a Southern tradition, it is beginning to catch on all across the country. The health benefits associated with “greens” are encouraging both professional and amateur chef’s to add these traditionally Southern treats to their regular menus. Here’s how I do it.
I wait until after the first frost to harvest my greens. The freeze is supposed to remove some of the bitterness. For my first harvest, I cut a few stalks from each of the plants. I then bring them in, strip the leaves from the stalks and wash them. After they are good and clean, I set them aside and proceeded to make a stock. This stock is often called pot liquor (or pot likker) and it is what makes the greens taste amazing.
To make the stock, I chopped up one whole yellow onion and four pieces of thick cut bacon. I cook the bacon and onions until the onions become soft. If you have some vegetarians in the house (as I often do), substitute three tablespoons of EVOO for the bacon. Next, add three cups of water and 1 teaspoon (tsp) salt, 1 tsp Zattaran’s Cajun spice and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Bring it all to a boil. Let it boil for about 3 minutes then reduce it to simmer and cover.
While the stock is simmering I put another big pot of water on to boil. I fill this pot half full of water and add 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of salt. While this is coming to a boil, I take a small handful of greens and roll them up like a cigar. I cut the roll into about 1/2” strips. Once the green are all cut up I add them to the rapidly boiling salt water. I boil them for three minutes and then pour off the water. This removes some of the bitterness associated with the greens. Finally, I added the drained greens to the stock and let them simmer for an hour. OMG!!!!! These things are wonderful.