Unfortunately, the eaters weren't me or my hub.
Just recently in fact this friend was telling me about getting collard greens in her Greenling box. While she prepared them for her family it brought back memories of her own Momma fixing them decades ago, starting off with rinsing them in their washing machine - the only watertight receptacle large enough to hold the quantities it took to feed a family of six hungry greens eaters.
Then I did my routine check of Homesick Texan's blog to discover her own salute to the joys of cooking and eating collard greens.Something snapped. Or maybe it clicked. The stars aligned, the wind blew from the correct direction, the barometric pressure hit the right number and I knew it was time for me to harvest some of my own collard plants before the crawly critters got them all.
Part of my hesitancy with regards to greens cooking was a lack of a clear understanding of how these leaves are supposed to be measured. I read "three bunches" or "three pounds" and I am stymied. I am not buying these from a store so how do I know what constitutes a proper "bunch"? I also don't routinely weigh the foods I cook (I don't weigh me after either and I feel we are all much happier that way). So how to proceed?
I did me a bit of a think on that and decided that people have been cooking and eating greens for centuries without measuring or weighing or formalized recipes and living to pass the habit on. I decided to read a few recipes, keep the common elements in mind, and go for it.
I checked into how to prepare the green leaves for cooking. All greens require careful rinsing to get the grit off. No matter where you get your leaves - store or garden - they are likely to need one or two thorough rinsings in a deep sink. They don't require a lot of drying off afterwards, they just need to be dry enough to handle/chop safely.Collards, I was told, are best prepped by taking out the central stem and then rolling and slicing the remaining leaves into ribbons. (Chiffonade.)I decided to apply the same technique to my two types of mustard greens as well. The mizuna isn't a large flat leaf so I simply rinsed and then pulled the green portions away from the stems. That might have been a bit of overkill but I figured to err on the side of uniformity of texture this go round.
Taking into account that mustard greens cook down faster than collard greens I figured to do the cooking in two stages so they'd all finish together.Every recipe I encountered (aside from the vegetarian ones) started with some sort of fatty salty pork, onion and garlic.The fat gets rendered out of the pork, the onion first and then the garlic get softened in that fat, water is added, greens are added, gentle cooking happens for varying amounts of time, seasonings are adjusted to taste and Bada-Bing Bada Boom you have you some greens to eat.So that is what I did. I gathered my greens - the collard leaves and two types of mustard greens.I prepped the leaves while the lardons (fancy schmancy term for bacon cut crosswise into little strips) were cooking.I threw the onions in first, after about 5-8 minutes I added the garlic, and a seeded jalapeño for a bit of zip, then I put in two cups of water.
Once that was at a gentle boil, I added the collards and cooked them covered for about 30 minutes. At that point I added the mustard leaves and cooked them covered at a gentle boil for an additional half hour or so.While the combined greens were taking their last half hour simmering together, I made savory cornbread (no big whoop I add dry sage/a smidgeon of dried thyme/pinch of sea salt to my batter), started a couple of chicken breasts in a Dijon mustard/dry sage marinade and heated up the grill.Just prior to serving the greens I added a bit of salt to taste, about 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar, and a ploosh of olive oil to the pot.It is the next day now and I am still stunned at how absolutely delicious the greens were. They had all sorts of layers of flavor. Salty, meaty, nutty, fresh green, a bit of zing from the vinegar and a sweetness that comes from how fresh they are I suppose. They were toothsome - yielding but not mushy - they were velvety - they were heavenly. I am a new convert - an instant fan, can you tell?
If I can throw this together and have it taste this amazing I am dead certain you can, too. Just get yourself some fresh locally grown greens, do your own investigating into legitimate recipes if you wish, haul out a nice large pot and get cooking! You will be wondering as I am now, what took you so long to discover this simple yet simply delicious way to enjoy this traditional Southern delicacy.
If it is not easy being green, it sure enough easy cooking greens. Give it a try and you can thank me later. And hey - if you do try cooking some greens on your own and like them - then let us know here in the comments section and share any tips you might have. Let's work together to see that more folks have their greens and eat them too!