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The Secret to Good Greens?


I love me some greens, and I was wondering if southerners wanted to share their recipes for them - collards, namely. I've heard of a few different methods but it seems that the best ones involve cooking them in bacon fat. Does anyone have an argument to this? Anyway, it doesn't have to be your own recipe, and also, if you don't have a recipe but you happen to know of a restaurant (in the Athens or Atlanta area, please) that has prize-worthy greens, please let me know that, too!

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  1. I use smoked turkey wings or legs and get good results. Start by simmering the wings or legs in the cooking water four an hour or two, then add the greens and cook till done. Adjust for salt and peper.

    1. Not a big fan of Collards...Turnip & Mustard is another story. Any of your usual pork seasoning meats will work...Ham, Bacon, Ham Hock, Salt Pork, Smoked neck bones, hog jowl, etc. Smoked turkey parts are fine too. Like chazzer said, start yoiu cooking water well in advance of cooking the greens......


      1 Reply
      1. re: Uncle Bob

        I like to cook a combination of the greens and use smoked ham hocks.

      2. Collards are my favorite and I always cook them with bacon.
        Cut a few strips of bacon into small pieces and cook until almost crisp. Add a chopped onion and sauté until translucent and starting to turn golden. Add the washed and chopped collards with the rinsing water still clinging to them. Toss well with the bacon, drippings, and onions. I add a hot tabasco pepper, black pepper and kosher salt. Cover and allow to sweat. Check every few minutes and stir the greens down.
        Cook as long as necessary to get to the way YOU like them. If you want more pot likker, add a little chicken stock.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MakingSense

          missed you, making sense! i add a little vinegar, too -- while cooking. and this vinegar at the table: texas pete pepper sauce. http://www.texaspete.com/product_pepp...

          1. re: alkapal

            I like vinegar too but don't add it while cooking. Seems to make the greens grey. Especially if I make a big pot and store leftovers.

            We make bottles of pepper vinegar every Fall. Soooo easy. Just stuff hot peppers into bottles and fill the bottles with boiling vinegar. Set to the side to age. Much cheaper than buying at the store - especially at the rate we go through the stuff at the table!!! ]
            I always put a few pepper plants in the garden just for pepper vinegar.

        2. vinegar is crucial.

          pork adds a lot.

          i agree with the sautee and then cover and steam recipe above.

          just sprinkle with vinegar before eating.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chartreusevelour

            I would like to try greens also. I understand one of the three greens mentioned, Mustard, Collard, or Turnip, has a strong odor when cooking. Which one is it, as I don't think I'd like to try that one. TIA!

            1. re: marycarol

              i always thought that turnip greens were the strongest flavor - but delicious cooked proper.
              I USED to cook using the smoked ham hocks and bacon fat - I've been force to cook a bit different and non-traditional - Olive oil and garlic- I will still use some smoked meat first - but will de-fat it (boil it and take the fat off, but leave the smoked water and the meat) - it isn't as good as the original, but I can eat gobs of it with out worry.

              1. re: EmileJ

                I've been using bacon as a seasoning in my braised greens/cabbage/whatever by chopping three or four slices crosswise, about 1/4" inch, and then frying the bits in about 1/4 cup of oil in the 5-qt. non-stick sauté pot (STILL $19.99 with rebate at Bat Barf & Beyond - check it out!) until they're just crisp. Drain the bacon, wipe out the pan - not TOO well - then heat another few tablespoons of oil, toss the bacon back in, and then your coarsely chopped and rinsed greens over high heat. A small handful of salt strewn over, some pepper, and then carefully turn it over and over until it all slumps down a bit, then put on the lid, turn the heat to low, and give it 20-30 minutes with an occasional re-stir. Works for green beans and Brussels sprouts as well - tastier than steamed, quicker than roasted. It is in some ways an inversion of the classic French method of blanching, chilling, draining and sautéeing, but a whole lot faster, and lower in fat as well.

          2. I saute greens in bacon fat, pepper flakes and garlic and sometimes splash in some balsamic at the end. BUT I also love my grannie's greens. That is greens, onions, hambone (or smoked hock or pork belly) with meat on it , a little water and salt. Cooked into oblivion and then served with a tone of pepper sauce on top, and alongside, fried okra, butter beans(with ketchup mixed in) and corn bread (with honey). I could live on that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              sal, did your grandmother fry the okra in a batter, or just toss it in seasoned flour and then fry? i've never had the butter beans with ketchup. how much do you put?

            2. I do any/all of the above depending on what I have at hand but also if I have an open white wine I'll add a splash of that at the start to simmer in. Collards are my favorite too. If I don't have any bacon fat or ham, I use olive oile and a few drops of liquid smoke.

              My other favorite thing to do with greens is make a chicken white bean soup with SW seasonings and add the chopped greens at the end.

              1. I love collards and I second Uncle Bob's suggestions. I don't add vinegar while they are cooking but I serve them with hot (spicy) chow chow.

                1. All greens lovers should look at recipes for Creole Gumbo Z'Herbes. Although it's a traditional Lenten gumbo, even the earliest recipes use meat broth, and most modern recipes include ham or sausage. Catholics in Louisiana (I'm one of them) had very creative interpretations of many rules of Holy Mother Church.

                  The Gumbo Z'Herbes is the odd-one-out, as it uses no roux, no okra, no filé, and isn't served with rice. It's really a big pot of mixed greens with an large amount of flavorful pot likker.
                  The tradition is that you must have a minimum of 5 types of green, 7 is better, and for each type, you'll make a new friend. Always an odd number however.
                  Recipes are pretty ad hoc. Go to the market and see what greens look good. I always use less meat than most modern recipes call for.
                  I made a huge pot on Good Friday and we had it a few times over Easter Weekend with cornbread. Makes a great meal.

                  This is a gumbo made for greens lovers!!!!
                  See a recent CH thread. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/491967
                  Here's the recipe from Dooky Chase's in New Orleans http://www.jfolse.com/recipes/soups/v...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MakingSense

                    thanks making sense. i like the part about more friends per number of greens. i'll bet you have some neat food lore stories that would be fun on this thread about "magical food" http://www.chowhound.com/topics/501112

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I'll admit to more silly superstitions than an educated person should. Daddy was Cajun, Mama was Creole - both old Louisiana families - and we had a housekeeper of Haitian ancestry, so I had it coming at me every which way.
                      My husband called me a Voodoo Catholic. Most of them are just fun. Part of my cultural heritage, and a lot related to food.

                  2. I agree with the general concepts above, including a dash of vinegar or juice from pickled hot peppers at the end, but I also usually add about a teaspoon of sugar while cooking.

                    1. I think we're all in agreement that cooking in bacon fat is the secret to good greens along with the addition of at least one other smoked meat. For me it's usually smoked ham hocks, when I'm trying to stay on the healthier side, it's olive oil and smoked turkey wings.

                      I'd also argue Lawry's seasoned salt is crucial to well-seasoned greens. I will have to try the addition of vinegar in my next batch.

                      1. When I don't use some sort of pork and opt for olive oil and garlic instead I find that a little splash of tamari really perks it up, especially kale.

                        1. My mom has a completely different way (Asian way) of cooking collard greens. She usually sautees them with canola oil first, then add fish sauce, sugar, water, Thai chili during the process. Then continue to sautee until they are soft. She may finish off by topping the dish with fried bacon or cilantro.

                          I also came across this "Collard Green Sushi Bites" recipe while I was trying to prepare a vegetarian dish for one of my friends. I think it is quite interesting!


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kobetobiko

                            my mom does a korean version of collard greens...she blanches the greens until just tender, but still has some bite...then she cuts it up into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces and mixes w/ green onions, garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. i was shocked how good they were and had to make some when i got home.

                            1. re: soypower

                              those DO sound good! i'm a sucker for anything with roasted sesame oil.

                          2. We steam ours, cut into thin strips cross-ways of the center vein. (With collards we cut out the thick center vein. We generally put some balsamic vinegar on them upon serving. Or to make masamba, peanut butter mixed with salsa over greens, served with potatoes.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: alkapal

                                Steamed greens (we use collards or kale) with a sauce made by mixing peanut butter with salsa. It's an African dish (from Malawi) We eat this with potatoes.

                            1. Greens
                              Serves: 6


                              • 1 bunch collard greens
                              • 1 bunch turnip greens
                              • 1 bunch mustard greens
                              • 6 strips bacon cut into one inch pieces
                              • 1 cup onion, chopped
                              • 1 small turnip, peeled and cubed
                              • 2 cups dry white wine
                              • - water to cover
                              • 1 ham hock
                              • 1½ teaspoons Creole Seasoning


                              1. Wash the greens and drain well.
                              2. Cut out the stems center ribs from the greens.
                              3. Tear the greens into small pieces.
                              4. In a black cast iron pot, sauté the bacon over medium heat until it is translucent and the bottom of the pot is coated with the rendered bacon fat.
                              5. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft.
                              6. Add the greens and the cubed turnip.
                              7. Add the water and wine to cover.
                              8. Add the ham hock and seasonings and bring pot to a boil over medium heat.
                              9. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the greens are tender, about 2 hours.
                              10. Serve greens hot with their cooking liquid or "pot likker”.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: speyerer

                                your pot must be huge for all those greens.

                              2. I love the old traditional method with forms of pork, but I'm trying to cut back on cholesterol. I've experimented with an alternate, vegetarian version of stewed collards, which has worked out okay. Sautee a bunch of onion in olive oil till it's translucent. Throw a bunch of garlic in there for a minute or two. Add your chopped collards, a can of chopped tomatoes, a spoonfull or two of brown sugar, bring it to boil, then lower the heat and stew. Add vinegar and'/or hot sauce at the end. No match for the silky deliciousness of the pork version, but heart-friendlier.

                                I also have a great recipe for "brazilian collards" that's super fast and good with chicken and fish. I use it all the time. Wash your collards like usual. Remove the tough stems. Stack your leaves, roll them like a cigar, and then slice them in little ribbons (do in batches). Chop or mortar together three or four cloves of garlic and some sea salt. Put olive oil in a BIG cast-iron pan. Heat till it's shimmering but not quite smoking. Throw in your garlic pasty salt mixture until it gets fragrant, then add your collard ribbons with any clinging water they may have maintained, along with several grinds of black pepper. Sautee for about 3-5 minutes and you're done. Add vinegar if you want. They're different from the stewed collards, but surprisingly bright, bitey, and delicious.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: dingey

                                  i have a friend that uses a smoked turkey leg. the collards take much longer to soften/ get done without the fat. (i learned this when one new year, i had a veg and trad pot put on the stove at the same time).