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Oct 23, 2012 07:49 AM

Anyone made Southern greens with bacon instead of a ham hock?

Some of you might be able to figure out from my posting history that I am attempting to make Southern greens and cornbread in Ireland, which is not so easy! I usually make my greens by boiling a ham hock and some diced onion for a while, then adding the greens with the vinegar, salt and pepper, and crushed red pepper. But, according to my local butcher, there will be no smoked hams until Christmas, and thus no smoked ham hocks. I picked up some good-looking smoked streaky bacon instead (I prefer the flavor to back bacon, which is more common in Ireland.) Does anyone make greens with bacon? I know fatback is often used but I've never tried that. Do you fry the bacon first and then add the water etc. and let it cook to make the broth to add the greens to? (This is kind of my plan.) Is the result as yummy as when using a ham hock? Any info is appreciated!

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  1. I grew up in the great Southern state of Mississippi and assure you that almost any vegetable can be seasoned with bacon. Is the result as yummy as when using a ham hock? Well, probably so. Generally one begins the dish with only the bacon in the pot and gently cooks to render the fat, as in this recipe from Emeril after he had lived in Louisiana for several years.

    1. Fry off your chopped streaky bacon, add your onions, garlic and then your greens. Season and add chicken stock to cook to desired doneness. The flavor will still be great, but your pot likker will not have the same body as if it had been simmered with collagen rich ham hocks or turkey wings.

      1. Absolutely yes. Here's my family method straight from Louisiana. In a large pot heat some oil and roughly chopped bacon over medium heat until bacon is well browned. Maybe add in a litte sliced garlic and cook 45 seconds or so. Deglaze with chicken stock and vinegar and maybe add a little sugar to cut the acidity along with the greens. Partially cover and cook for 30 minutes or so.

        1. Bacon and braising is the way this New Englander makes "Southern" greens. The first time I had boiled greens was on a trip to Tennessee. They were great, but a Kentucky-born friend assured me that good greens could be made without the long-boiling Southern method. Rener some chopped bacon, add garlic and onions and saute till golden, then add chicken broth or ham broth and the chopped greens. Cover and simmer, adding your choice of vinegar and cayenne-delivery-system (hot sauce or red pepper flakes or whatever) when the greens are nearly done.

          1. I use Justin Wilson's recipe and substitute bacon for the hocks. Dice and saute over low heat to render some of the fat. Add onions and garlic and the greens and cook until slightly wilted but still firm. Then add some cheap chardonnay and continue cooking. I like my pot likker strong, but you can always dilute with water or stock.