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Oct 17, 2012 09:08 AM

I made southern-style greens for the first time and life is good

I'm no southerner, so I encountered southern-style greens later in life. It was love at first taste but I always imagined they were made with some kind of complicated gumbo-like stewing process, which intimidated me away from making them at home. So in the past I limited my intake to infrequent BBQ joint excursions where I would inhale greens like a hippopotamus eating swamp vegetation.

Not to mention, I grew up in a Chinese family where vegetables were stir-fried until just barely done, and god help you if you overcooked the bok choy. This kind of childhood indoctrination is very hard to break so my home has gone greens-less for many years, BUT NO LONGER.

Fellow yankees, I am here to say that southern-style greens are easy to make, don't actually take long to cook, and may in fact be the finest vegetable dish indigenous to North America. Here's all I did: Rough chop three big bundles of turnip and collard greens while picking out the thicker and tougher stems. Dice and sauté a couple strips of bacon, then cook down minced onion, red chile, and garlic in the pork fat. Add greens and stir-fry until wilted, then cover with chicken stock and heat to a simmer for an hour or until they look olive-drab. Season to taste with hot sauce and salt. Serves like a dozen and tastes better the next day. Try em, I bet you'll like em.

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  1. You've convinced me to try this!

    1. Cover the pan while simmering or no? And the turnips you just use the leaves, not the actual turnip?

      Oh and does this work with any greens I'd imagine or are collards important?

      4 Replies
      1. re: SocksManly

        Collards are important, and a half and half mix of collards and mustard greens work well too.

        A good friend taught me her recipe, which is even easier. Clean and chop your greens after removing the larger ribs, put in a pot with water to cover and one or two yellow or white onions that have been quartered, add a ham hock and let her rip for one or two hours.

        Once tender, remove the hock and pick the meat. Return meat back to the pan. Serve with hot sauce and plenty of the liquor. Darn easy and the perfect accompaniment to so many things.

        It's always killed me that TJ's greens mix has spinach in it. It would be so easy to grab a bag of cleaned greens for any old time, but spinach in greens just doesn't sound right to me.

        1. re: rabaja

          Ralphs (the Kroger affiliate in SoCal) has bagged greens of several kinds and combinations, which is why I get mine there for the most part. TJ's bagged greens I just use for salad or in soup.

          I've been cooking every green leafy thing Southern style for years - learned to do it in Nashville, just one of many good culinary lessons from there - only now I use bacon only when cooking for myself, as Mrs. O is off the carnivore thing. However, olive oil does just fine, and the Imagine No-Chicken Broth works well too. Cabbage, chard and black kale do best cooked quickly with little or no added liquid; collards, turnip and mustard need a bit more time and juice.

        2. re: SocksManly

          Yep, I used a large dutch oven and covered it during the simmer stage. Use only the leaves of the plant and stay away from fragile greens like spinach and lettuce. I bet any green with a coarse and tough texture would be great in this preparation. I'm gonna try it with sweet potato greens next.

          1. re: SocksManly

            Really you can use any bitter green. Collards, kale, turnip, mustard, and chard all work. I believe kale and collards are the least bitter, so having 50% of your mix be one or both of those isn't a bad idea.

          2. I'm with you. I rarely make these myself but it is a great thing to do with older, tougher greens and very economical. You are right that many of believe that the only good green is a lightly cooked one but this tried and true method can yield great results. Hot sauce is essential.

            1. sounds lovely
              As a Southerner I make mine with either ham hock or usually smoked turkey wings. Other than that the only real difference for me is I start the pot likker before putting the greens into the pot to get the max flavor

              2 Replies
              1. re: LaLa

                Preach it! I am a white guy who has lived in the Cincinnati area my whole life, but my mother was from rural Kentucky, and I was raised culinarily a Southerner. The nicest thing anybody's ever said about my cooking was when a friend, raised in South Carolina and educated at Clemson, said my greens were the best she'd ever had.

                1. re: jmckee

                  I am from Ky but live it SC now!

              2. I'm a Southerner and I've cooked greens every which way. For those of you who really like pig parts (as we do down here) try cooking your greens with corned pig tails. Soak those tails overnight to remove most of the salt then cook them in simmering water in a large stockpot until nearly tender; add the collards or mixed greens (I generally do a mix of turnip/mustards/kale or hanover greens) and season it up with crushed red pepper, chopped onion and once done, a generous spray of cider vinegar or hot pepper vinegar