Thursday, November 15, 2012

Southern Style Turnip Greens with Salt Pork

Southern style turnip greens, stewed with salt pork, beef base, a bit of sugar and cider vinegar. Serve with cornbread and pickled onions and pass the hot pepper sauces at the table.

Southern Style Turnip Greens

Now that fresh, already cleaned and chopped greens are so readily available, I find that despite the fact that The Cajun doesn't like greens, I can still get fresh greens in my diet a little more often. Taking away the cleaning process really helps to speed things up, though you do pay a bit of a premium for the convenience, of course.

It's especially nice when you can catch them on sale too, which happens, because they do have a limited shelf life. Just keep your eyes open! If you happen to find a fresh bunch of turnip greens with the roots, however, you'll want to eat those roots too. Simply peel, cube and rinse them to add in the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Turnip greens, like mustard greens and kale, tend to be more bitter to my taste-buds than collards, so I prefer using salt pork for seasoning those, which seems to help cut that. You'll generally find salt pork somewhere in the meat case near the bacon, in 12 ounce blocks. I like to split it up into 2 ounce portions for freezing, and I trim away the rind if it's not already a trimmed piece. Salt pork can be used in most places where you might use bacon for seasonings - greens, cabbage, Southern peas, soups and stews, and all sorts of beans - though bacon does add in a smokiness that you won't get from the salt pork.

Most of us Southerners cook our greens pretty much the same way, with some variation in the liquids used, seasonings and time. Some of us like them cooked fairly quickly, some of us like them to slow stew awhile. That'd be my choice. I use 2 quarts of liquid for plenty of pot likker, and once I get them going, I turn them down and let them slow simmer for an hour or more. To me, they just get better as they stew.

I get a little more involved with my collard greens, first stewing down a ham hock, which I think adds tremendous flavor. Collards, along with mustard greens, may also be cooked with this same simple method. Greens can serve as a complete main dish, or as I make them more often, a side dish, alongside most any main dish.

This is the way that I love to serve mine - scooped into a shallow bowl, along with a little pot likker spooned all around and cornbread crumbled right on top.

Add a scoop of pickled onions, a couple dashes of Trappey's hot peppers in vinegar and some iron skillet cornbread and I am in heaven.

Here's how to make them.

Recipe: Southern Style Turnip Greens

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 1 hour 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 large bunch of turnip greens or a 1-pound package of prewashed and chopped
  • 2 ounces of salt pork, cubed
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of beef base or bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat or butter
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pickled onions, optional
  • Hot pepper vinegar sauce, for the table
  • Hot sauce, for the table

Clean the greens by breaking off large stems. Rinse well in clean water, several times to remove any grit or sand. Chop into small pieces, rinse again and drain well in a colander; set aside. Rinse the salt pork and cube. Add the water, salt pork, salt, sugar, beef base, bacon fat or butter and vinegar to a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the greens, return to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hours, depending on texture and tenderness desired; stir occasionally. Taste, season with salt and pepper. Serve with cornbread and pass pickled onions, hot pepper vinegar sauce and hot sauce at the table.

Cook's Notes: May also be used for collards and mustard greens, or a mixture of any of the three. Trim any rind off of the salt pork before using. May also substitute streak o' lean (fried salt pork), or smoked ham hocks, hog jowl, ham or turkey. Allow the hocks or smoked meats to slow simmer in the water for about an hour, or until the meat breaks away, then proceed with greens.

Turnip Roots: Peel, cube and rinse the roots well. Add to the pot in the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 15, 2012
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  1. LOL, i cooked some mustard greens last weekend, aggggggg, pretty good, but i think i left a bit of grit, would love to hear how people wash theirs, I've heard stories of them being washed in the dishwasher,washing machine etc. OH< I did slow cook them in the crockpot for HOURS, i didn't have any salt pork on hand, but used a bit of bacon grease , spices, beef broth etc. Yummy even if a bit grity, good for the gizard i suppose????????? have a great day!!! BLessings from Central Mississippi

    1. Thank you & blessing right back!! You really do have to rinse them multiple times, fill the sink, swish them around around, drain the sink, rinse, fill the sink, repeat. Usually about 3 times will do it. Then chop them up and do it one more time. Or just buy the bag of already cleaned & chopped!

    2. i like the sounds of buying them ready to cook, one of the guys i work with from the coast brought me a bag full and is bringing another batch in a couple weeks, when he is working up this way. I WILL WASH them better next time for sure.

    3. The bags are convenient but cost more of course, & fresh are the best! They're just gritty like leeks & take washing a few times so I like to do them in the sink & just shake them around a few times, rinse & repeat. That should get rid of the grit.

    4. Hi Trailrider731. I grew up having the chore of washing the greens and if you ever taste grit one'll know to wash them a lot more next time! It's best if you got them straight from the garden, to wash each leaf one at a time. Do this like Mary said about three times. Then strip the tender leaf apart from the core stem. Those are tough and take away from the tender leaf part. Also, an easy way to take away the bitterness, just blanch them about ten minutes, then drain that water off and put fresh water back in along with whatever seasonings you want and also a teaspoon of sugar. You will have scrumptious greens!!! :-) Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

  2. Yum, we love 'em! Just finished a batch from my friends recipe that used red wine instead of water. I'm trying your recipe next time!

    1. I don't cook much with wine, so I've never tried them that way. Seems a lot of wine?! I'm sure that cuts the bitterness though. This method with water & just a touch a bouillon, sugar and vinegar are pretty good too. I hope that you do try them Kerry!

  3. I have never heard of turnip greens, and I'm not sure I've ever seen them in the store, I'll have to look, I bet it's a southern thing! anne

    1. Oh yes Anne! Outside of the South, the roots are king & the green tops are considered feed for the farm critters LOL! Hope that you can find some to try because if you like greens, I think you'll enjoy them.

  4. I like the occasional bowl of turnip greens and have grown turnips (which I don't like) just for the greens. I've never made them at home that I like as well as served in a local restaurant, but this may be the recipe that changes that.

    1. I hope so Larry - let me know if you try the recipe & what you think. I have some fresh ones that I'm getting ready to clean & make me another batch today! I wish that I could get my husband to eat them, but he's a bit of a pill when it comes to vegetables. More for me!

    2. I think rutabegars (spelling terrible ) would be better instead of turnips

  5. Alexis is such a green eating freak, she would love this.

    1. I am too Chris! I just got finished making some spinach, in fact! I always offer it to my husband just to see what his reaction will be - knowing of course he will decline - and then I usually make a very big deal of proclaiming how delicious it is LOL!!! Happy Holidays Chris!

  6. I made these as a Thanksgiving side, and they were wonderful, though I left out the apple cider vinegar because I'm not a fan. This is definitely my turnip green recipe for the future! My husband and I always argue: turnips vs. collards (he won't eat turnip greens at all), so I'll be trying your collard recipe for Christmas.

    1. Thanks so much Bonnie for taking the time to come back by to let me know you enjoyed the turnip greens! I love greens but my husband won't eat any of them so I used to not make them very often but I know my body needs them so I've changed my outlook on that & have been eating them from fresh much more often now. You should check out the green gumbo too - it's a mixture of greens & meats - it is SO good & perfect for the holidays, plus it freezes nicely.

    2. I love greens. They are the best.Eat with cornbread and butter.

  7. I LOVE LOVE Turnip greens, I am from Mississippi but cannot make good turnip greens. I LOVE LOVE Cracker Barrel's turnip greens, and was told by an employee that they get the pictsweet turnip greens seasoned with smoked bacon flavor... I am UNSUCCESSFUL in finding those here in Indiana where I live(I miss the Delta), I came across your recipe and wondered if you could tell me how yours compares to the pictsweet I mentioned(never ate the pictsweet brand)

    1. I think these are very good but I've not had those so I can't make a comparison between the two. I think the seasoned ones you refer to are found in the freezer section but you may want to ask your store manager to carry them. Sometimes that is all it takes! Truth is there are lots of nicely seasoned greens products found these days - thankfully! Since my husband doesn't carry for any kind of greens, I enjoy Margaret Holmes brand canned greens as well as Glory brand southern seasoned line often!

  8. I grew up washing greens by hand and know all too well the feeling when you hit that piece of grit that got missed. Now that I'm in my dotage, when faced with washing greens, I bring out the laundry mesh bag, dump them into the washing machine w/a little baking soda, and voila! Never tried cooking them w/beef broth but have added a little chicken broth to the water with whatever is on hand for seasoning...salt pork, ham bone, bacon drippings. Add corn bread and you've got a meal!

    1. I like the flavor the beef broth adds, but have used both. Like the seasoning meat, it just depends on what I have on hand to use really! Either will work and even plain water of course, but I think the broth just boosts the flavor of the greens, whichever is used.

      Most of the time I find a couple of rinses in the sink does the job, but I've actually tried the washing machine method before too! I'm always a little afraid of soap residue though so when I get them in fresh bunches, I just use the sink most of the time.


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