Everyone knows we eat greens on New Year's Day for good luck. As you may have heard, or so the legend goes, it is because of the color, so similar to our paper currency, but there is a more logical reason as well.
Turnips, kale, and collard greens are ready to eat this time of the year. So let's just split the difference and say it is a lucky combination of facts, but eat them we do.
The secret to making good greens, just as in making good peas and beans, is the stock that they are cooked in. If you use a simple store-bought stock, or heaven forbid, just plain water, your results will be frightfully plain. Get your nerve on, and jump into the pot with some good ideas of your own.
The following is a good recipe, but a more important point I would like to make is that if you can find a good barbeque place that smokes sausage, you have stumbled upon a magical combination. Fresh-made greens and smoked sausage is a culinary dream come true.
GREEN AND SAUSAGE
1 bunch collard, turnip or kale
2-3 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup shopped smoked sausage
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes
Rice vinegar from the Asian store
Hopefully you have made your stock with the carcass of a chicken, lots of onions, carrots and garlic. Add the stock to a large stock pot, add the sausage and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season the stock as necessary. Add the greens by the handful, adding the next bunch when the first has wilted. Simmer with the lid on until the greens are tender, about 20 minutes. If you want to thicken up the pot liquor, add just a little corn starch mixed with cold water.