For generations, the American South has cooked up some mighty fine eating, but it’s more than fried foods and decadent desserts.
Greens became a staple food when slaves utilized the tops of beets and turnips, discarded after harvest. Simmered in a pot of water with a piece of pork (ham hock or salt pork) turned a handful of greens into an economical and nutritious meal.
The cabbage-like leaves of collard greens are rich in vitamins and invaluable sources of Phyto-nutrients (anti-cancer). Turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin-k and omega-3 fatty acids (the hallmarks of good anti-inflammatory nutrients). I use half of each in my Southern greens. You could also use kale, mustard, chard or dandelion greens.
- 4 1/2 pounds southern greens
- 1/2-pound salt pork, diced
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Black pepper
- Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves from greens. Wash thoroughly, drain.
- In a large pan, (large enough to hold all of the greens) cook the pork until crisp and brown.
- Add the onion to the pan, cook until translucent.
- Add the greens in batches, sauteing and stirring each addition until fully wilted.
- Sprinkle sugar over the greens, (my grandmother always added a pinch of sugar to negate the bitterness) add water, bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes until greens are tender. (Time may vary depending on the type of greens used).
- Season with a few grinds of pepper. I doubt you’ll need additional salt because salt pork is, well, salty ( just taste first). Southern greens are a typical side dish as is but more often than not, I serve them over grits.