Cooking & Eating Greens | These two Southern ingredients changed everything for this Northern girl!
This recipe is even modified for a low sodium diet.
If someone told me a few years ago that I would enjoy eating a bowl of Southern Greens, I would have told them they were crazy, I never could hardly stand the smell no less the bland taste of any type of greens.
Now I am hooked, not only do we love them as a main dish we have them several times during the fall and spring even growing them in our fall and spring garden. We can hardly wait until they are ready to cook up a fresh batch.
We particularly like a mix of turnip, mustard and collard greens with young chopped turnips.
What changed my mind was a weekend trip to a reenactment site where an old timer was demonstrating chuck wagon cooking.
He was handing out small sample cups of his campfire cookery. He had Dutch oven cobbler and a pot of greens.
Naturally the cobbler was not an issue, but he kept handing me this cup of greens and kept smiling.
As I didn't want to hurt his feelings I reluctantly took the cup and thanked him thinking I would ditch it behind the next convenient bush or trash can.
I took a smell, and actually it didn't smell like the greens we ate in the Midwest. No matter how long Mom would boil that stuff, it never tasted or smelled good.
I decided to take a small taste, and wow! Well I had to go ask him for another cup and to compliment him on the recipe. Naturally I tried my hardest to get it out of him, but he just kept smiling and would never say much.
Soon I figured out that he was also promoting his cookbook, with the proceeds going to the park.
Long story short we ended up with a $15 cookbook and went directly to the store on the way home to buy greens for the very first time.
I’m not going to print his recipe on the Internet; in fact I can’t even find the cookbook anymore. I have modified my own recipe as low sodium, after discovering two ingredients that being from the North I have never seen used in cooking greens before.
When I started to make my greens I was pretty green on how to prepare them, so our first batch ended up with some pretty stringy tough stems.
Now I have learned that preparing them is much like cutting out a fish back bone. I lay the leaf out on a cutting board with the stem up and slice down both sides of the main stem and then do the same on the large finger veins.
I have even found the method effective when the greens get a bit over grown, I can still cut off enough to make a pot.
Once I have that completed I cut and or tear the leaves up into small sections and then wash in small batches several times in a colander before adding them to the stock pot. Around 10 colanders full of greens.
I add chopped onion, the chopped turnips, chopped turkey bacon and seasoning. I have to be low sodium, so garlic powder, and black pepper, for me but season to your own taste. A lot of the Southern recipes also use red pepper flakes.
Filling a large stock pot 16-qt about 2/3 with water I will allow the greens to cook down. This allows plenty of room to boil them hard without worrying about a boil over.
At that point I scoop out about ½ of the water over the top and replace with the first ingredient, “Chicken Broth”, low sodium of course. I add about four cups of the chicken broth, and then a cup of white vinegar, start with a ½ cup and taste as you cook, as too much vinegar can overpower the greens.
The greens are then boiled hard again until they are tender. Before setting the pot to simmer I add the second ingredient, three tablespoons of “Sugar” and then stir and simmer until it’s ready to serve.
The sugar with the vinegar provides a sweet and sour combination while the chicken broth gives the greens a real substance taste, which is so much more than just boiled water.
The low sodium broth I use is only 70 mg per cup, the turkey bacon is just a few slices to just give it a taste of pork.
Add a slice of cornbread topped with honey, now that is a meal that I never thought I would brag about.