The first meal my mother in law made me was baked ham, greens and home-made macaroni and cheese. I still remember that meal…sitting at her small table in her apartment. Having traveled from California by plane and in a totally different world in Dover Delaware and meeting my mother in law for the first time. I think I may have been terrified. My husband and I had a small wedding in California and we were not able to have the whole family attend. My mother in law is a warm and wonderful person and I soon felt at home. We must have sat at that table for three hours talking and laughing. I loved my mother in law and her greens. Still do!
I have been experimenting with making green ever since that meal.
Last spring I was catering for a group that was coming to Colorado from Louisiana. I decided to make greens. Yes, this California girl was going to make greens for a group of Southerners. After I served dinner one of the men who were in the group came up to me. He had a tear in his eye. Seriously. He said to me, “Miss Connie, those greens are just like my momma used to make. Can I have more?” He went and sat down and I could see him take a bite of greens and then shake his head in amazement. This was one of the high points in my career.
I am still working on my greens but I believe I have the recipe for perfect greens. I am willing to share this knowledge with you but you must take the necessary steps. When you make greens this way I can guarantee you will love them.
Important steps for perfect greens:
1. Pick young and dark-colored greens. Make sure they are not tough. If you can, buy them in season from a local organic farm. I get some of the best greens from Dancing Bear Farms in Longmont each year. My husband and I usually eat them from the pot on the stove they are so good. They do not even make it to a plate.
2. Do not cut out the rib. Some cooks instruct cutting out the rib but if you have good greens the rib makes a nice solid tooth feel among the softer leaves.
3. Use real chicken stock. Not broth. Make a chicken stock that is like jello. It is best if you can make your stock with a pig’s foot. Then you have a great stock. Chicken feet work well too. More on stock that will help you keep younger looking skin and many other health benefits in a later post.
4. Use bacon grease to saute you onions and garlic. I always drain the bacon fat off my bacon when I make it in the oven and keep it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to use for cooking greens, eggs, beef for stew and many other recipes where it calls for saute veggie. Green beans sautéed in bacon fat are heavenly. Just a little bit of bacon fat goes a long way.
The recipe for Perfect Greens
4 bunches fresh greens (I used Kale, Red Kale and 2 bunches of Collards)
1/4 sweet white onion minced fine
1 clove fresh garlic minced fine
1/2 tsp bacon fat
2 quarts REAL chicken stock
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Optional Diced Ham or Bacon
Saute onion in bacon fat until lightly browned. Add garlic and let cook for 1 minute. Add cut up greens and chicken stock. Cook for about 30-45 minutes. You will not need to cook the greens for a long time if they are young and very fresh. Long cooking is only needed for tough older greens.
When greens are done season and add diced ham or bacon.
My husband loves his greens with apple cider vinegar. I just like them plain.
I will buy as much greens as I can when I find good ones and make up huge batches and freeze them. Then I will add them to soups and stews or just eat them as a side dish.