01
Feb
08

My Green Heaven

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I love greens. They are fine sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and served over warm cannellini beans, but they speak most eloquently to me when they are stewed in pork stock.

In the interest of preserving present friendships and laying the groundwork for new ones, I will assume that the thought of me using pork as a seasoning does not makes you glow with a feeling of superiority.

Buying greens, preparing them, and cooking them makes me almost as happy as eating them. You can buy decent ones prepackaged in stores now, but fondling a gigantic pile of bright and tender leaves is an awesome way to ward of the vampirish gray of Indiana’s winter, so why not buy fresh? I found this outstanding mix of collards, turnip greens, and lacinato kale at Sunflower Market (closing soon, by the way). Aren’t they beautiful?

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Six pounds will make plenty for sharing.

Washing (got to get the grit off) and then trimming the yellowed areas, stems and the thicker ribs from the middle of leaves takes awhile, so I prefer to prepare greens for cooking a day in advance. Wait any longer and they start to lose their punch. I wrap the clean leaves loosely in paper towels and put them in plastic bags in the refrigerator where they keep just fine.

While I’m groping the greens, I put a pound of slab bacon, unsliced if you can find it (Goose the Market has the prettiest I’ve ever seen) in two quarts of water to boil. Score the hunk-o-meat deeply before putting it in. Let the bacon boil for about 45 minutes. If it’s good bacon, the smoky awesome smell will kick even more winter booty!

Don’t you worry about all that fat going into your greens. Once you cook the flavor out of the bacon, discard it or give some of it to a favorite animal in your life (See, now your even making the pets happy!). Store the stock in a cold place over night. The fat will congeal and you can just skim most of it off before putting even one beautiful leaf in the pot. Since I like mine to have a bit of a sheen, I leave in a little of the fat.

When you’re ready to cook the greens, get the skinny pork broth good and hot, a low boil is fine. Cut the collard greens into one inch wide strips. Lay them in the hot water and put the lid on so they can start cooking down. I put the collards (the bigger leaves in the picture above) in before the other greens because they are typically less tender and take a little longer to cook.

While the collards are cooking down, tear the other more tender leaves into similar sized shapes by hand, stirring the cooking collards occasionally. Then put the other greens in and put the lid back on. Once all of the leaves are all coated and turned in the stock, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the greens slowly, covered, for 30 more minutes or a little longer if they started out tough. Stir them every once in awhile. Sprinkle a couple teaspoons of sugar in there some where along the way.

I like my greens to taste like greens, but season them with salt if needed (probably won’t be) or other herbs and spices. Adding a dash of tangy heat is traditional in the south. When I have it, I sprinkle some pepper flavored cider vinegar on them. Tabasco will do in a pinch.

Serve those babies warm with just about anything. Greens get along with all kinds of food. I would be just as happy to eat them with Kung Pao Pork as I was when we had them with our fried chicken last week. They can easily be a main course, too, if you have good cornbread, biscuits or the crusty bread John has been making lately.

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6 Responses to “My Green Heaven”


  1. February 1, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Mmmmm that sounds delicious. I think you’ve inspired me to add that to my menu/grocery list.

  2. 2 juliebelle
    February 1, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    i think you’ve got the makings for a gorgeous floral arrangement!!!!

    a work friend recently polled the group about how to make greens (she doesn’t really cook. ever. she’s more of a dried fruit and nuts eater). she got a pretty quick response from the team.

    i’ll email the results to you. there was such a wide variety of responses for such a basic staple.

    thanks for the post.

    greens+beans (pintos, preferably)+ cornbread (savory, not sweet)= my death row meal.
    in other words, they’re part of my sacred trinity of food.

  3. February 1, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    There sure are a plurality of greens recipes. I would eat almost any of them!

    And no one knows veggie arrangements the way you do, Julie! Please make suggestions.

    When I cut the tops off of my beets (see the first picture)the leaves were far too pretty to throw away. I think I could have cooked them, too, but I decided to make a little arrangement of them. They lasted for a few days and were so pretty!

  4. February 1, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Beets…funny colors…hey, hey. Greens is good, yeah.

  5. February 1, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I hope my taste buds grow up a little in my 30’s so that I will appreciate the simple savory excellence of greens. I can’t bring myself to eat them right now even though my dad is a farmer who always has a lovely garden in the mix of a cotton field and my sister who has a huge garden at home as if she were a farmer. Haha. They are very beautiful though.

  6. February 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Susan – I used to hate them too, but I find they are MUCH better when cooked with a lot of pork fat.


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