In the South there’s just no escaping braised greens! Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens — they are like the life force of the region. At the GO we mostly cook collards, and we prepare them in a fairly traditional way — start with some pork fat and onion, simmer and voila! We do use a fair amount of vinegar in ours so that you might not even need to serve them with the precursory condiment of pepper vinegar, but you be the judge.
P.S. This recipe is a perfect example of how Allan Benton’s bacon elevates a dish. For more on Allan Benton read the previous blog or visit his website Benton’s Hams to order some of his deliciousness.
Braised Local Greens
6 ounces Benton bacon, or other high quality bacon, chopped
2 to 3 pounds, cleaned and cut collard greens (4 bunches) (about 1 gallon once cut and cleaned)
2 cups sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons hot sauce
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
First, a note on cleaning and cutting greens. Washing your greens is of utmost importance because often times they can be extremely sandy. If yours do not seem especially dirty you can try simply washing the individual leaves under cold running water. But if your greens are straight from the field you might need to fill the largest vessel in your kitchen with cold water and dunk your greens in — giving them a good swim. Once your greens are washed simple cut out the thick spine running up the middle. Then lay the destemmed leaves on top of each other and slice yielding a nice, bite-sized rectangle (you might also think of this as a thick julienne cut.) Now you are ready to cook some greens!
Heat a large pot over a medium-high flame. Add bacon and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add onion, salt and pepper and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar, brown sugar and hot sauce and stir to combine. Add water, reduce to a simmer and cook until greens are tender, about 2 hours.
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings; about 2 quarts