What could be a better dish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than greens?
Greens, namely collards and turnips, are at the top of the list of Southern favorites, but kale is moving up the list.
And there are many good reasons for that.
Greens are healthy, inexpensive, and you can grow your own. Cut leaves off at the base and new leaves will sprout.
Consider cooking up a pot of your favorite greens to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which is Friday.
Perhaps the most important step in cooking delicious greens is in preparing a stock. Yes, you can use a store-bought stock, but it will never develop the deep, layered flavor of a long-simmered homemade stock. And you have the added benefit of making your house smell good for most of a day.
Ham stock made with a good, fatty smoked ham, is the best choice.
The smoked pork chops almost every grocery store has these days are perfect, although a superior stock also can be made from the leftover ham bone from Sunday dinner.
If you want to, spice it up a bit with a diced jalapeno, a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, some freshly ground black pepper and coarse sea salt.
By the way, I was at a store the other day and I overheard a woman say, “That’s as good as biscuits and grits.”
So, take my word for it, these greens are as good as biscuits and grits, and they will make a nice accompaniment to your main course the St. Patrick’s Day.
This is a simple recipe, and it can be the base for lots of good meals such as beans and peas, or even rice.
1 package smoked pork chops (bone-in or not)
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional diced and seeded jalapeno
Cut the chops into cubes, add olive oil to a sauté pan and heat to medium. Add the pork, season with black and red pepper flakes and the jalapeno if you like. Sauté slowly until the pork is well browned. Add 3-4 cups water and simmer for 45 minutes. Taste and re-season as necessary.
GREENS AND PASTA
1 pound imported Italian fettuccini
1 cup cooked greens per person (made with smoked pork chops)
Best-quality olive oil
Salt for boiling pasta
Boil the pasta in water that has been heavily seasoned with salt (do not overcook). Follow the package directions for timing. Drain the pasta, add a little olive oil if you like. Toss the pasta and greens to mix, plate and garnish with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
RICE AND GREENS
3/4 cup greens per person
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken or ham stock
Red pepper flakes
Valentina hot sauce
Prepare the greens as in the recipe above. In a rice cooker or sauce pot with a tightly fitting lid, combine the rice and stock, cover and steam slowly for 20 minutes. Toss the steamed rice and greens, garnish with hot sauce and serve at once.
1 loaf of crusty French bread
1 bunch turnip or collard greens
2-3 cups ham stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice vinegar
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes, sea salt, black pepper
Stem and rinse the greens (there is no shortcut, just take one leaf at a time and rip the leafy part away from the stem). Rinse well. Add the stock to a stock pot, bring to a simmer, add the vinegar and season, then add the greens one handful at a time; stir until they wilt. Cook for 10 minutes, check to see if they are tender (overcooking is a bad idea), remove from heat when done. Slice and toast the bread, use butter if you dare, top with greens and serve with a side of the pot liquor.