Day 4 of Thanksgiving dishes is about cooking greens. Greens are a common side dish here in the South and I have come to love them in my adult life. Daddy always planted Florida Broadleaf Mustard greens but I wouldn’t touch them as a kid…if he could only see me now, he would be proud!
Turnip greens have a stronger taste than mustard greens, but are delicious if cooked right. Turnip greens are actually what I craved when I was pregnant with Savannah. Occasionally I’ll cook turnip roots and not only do I add them to turnip greens but I’ve also added them to mustard greens.
I don’t have an exact recipe. What I know about cooking greens has been passed down to me from my mother, my mother-in-law and Greg’s grandmother. Basically, this is what I put in my greens and how I prepare them, but you may need to taste to season correctly and to your liking.
I buy smoked bacon at the meat market and have the butcher slice it extra thick (about 1/4-inch thick). I then come home and cut these pieces in half. I place one piece in a snack size Ziploc bags, then place all of the little Ziploc bags into a gallon-size freezer bag and freeze. When I’m cooking beans, peas, or greens, I grab a piece to season whatever I’m cooking.
The directions for this recipe are lengthy. Hopefully, I explained this thoroughly. Please leave a comment here, at Not Just Sunday Dinner, if you have any questions.
Fresh Greens (Mustard or Turnip)
- 10 lb. greens (mustard or turnip or a combination)
- 1 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 - 2 pieces thick sliced smoked bacon
- 1 - 2 qts. water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
- The first thing I do after picking my greens is wash them outside. You'll need two big clean buckets or wash tubs. Fill a bucket (or wash tub) half way with water. Pour greens into water, pushing down into water to clean. Take out, shake off excess water and place into the other clean bucket.
- Next, I strip the stems from the greens. Holding the green, front side together so that leaf is "folded" at stem. Start stripping at bottom working your way up. You will not need to strip the stem from the entire leaf, just remove the bigger part of the stem. This is only for the large leaves, the small ones are fine as they are.
- Fill your clean kitchen sink half-way with water. Sprinkle in a tbsp. of salt (a trick I learned from Greg's grandmother to help get bugs off greens). Swirl around to dissolve salt. Place greens in water, pushing down to fill sink. Wash by swishing them around in water. Remove, shaking excess water off, into the other side of your kitchen sink or a dishpan. Let water out of sink and repeat without the salt. This is a lengthy process, but you will need to continue doing this until the water is clean after greens have been removed and there is no sand or grit in the bottom of the sink when you run your fingers across the bottom. It's much better to do this than to crunch down on a piece of sand.
- Now stack your leaves (about 10 - 12 per stack). Roll the stack up like a cigar and cut crosswise into 1-inch strips, set aside.
- Pour canola oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook bacon until it starts to brown. Now, add greens to pot, pushing down. Pour in water, I do not cover the greens, but fill about half-way up. Add sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. The greens will cook down a LOT and quickly. Stir them often.
- Bring to a boil and cook for about 1 hour over medium heat, or until tender. Remove the bacon and serve greens with pepper sauce or hot sauce.
Greg's grandmother would cook turnip greens for a while, then drain them. She would then put fresh water in the pot. She said this would help to eliminate any bitter taste you sometimes get with turnips.