Braised Field Greens with Smoked Turkey Legs

Garden Greens recipe, Southern Style

A Fine Side Dish of Greens, Any Time of the Year.

Take a stroll down any produce aisle, any time of the year, and you will find a mess of fine, tender greens ready for fine eating. Fresh greens are available year-round thanks to the large farms in Florida and a few along the coastal Gulf Coast and of course, southern California. Latin American imports allow us to enjoy much broader varieties of seasonal greens during our tepid Gulf Coast summers. The most effective way to enjoy the freshest produce right now is to support our local farmers' markets and buy from them.

This recipe is an old way of cooking a mess of greens, often with fatback, salted pork, bits of smoked ham or ham hocks; or with just about any seasoned meat, along with a rich chicken broth. Caramelized onions begin the layering of flavor to the greens as they wilt to silky tenderness while slow simmering in a most aromatic seasoned stock from your spice cabinet. With the hint of pickling from the cider vinegar and sugar, the essence or quiddity is just enough to cut the bitterness of the likes of kale or mustard. Enjoy!

Braised Field Greens with Smoked Turkey Leg Meat

2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 smoked turkey legs
1 teaspoon each of butter, bacon grease, and olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced vertically
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
4 quarts chopped summer greens: swiss chard, beets, cabbage, collards, kale, spinach, orach, dandelion, etc
Salt, and pepper to taste

To a medium pot, add chicken stock and turkey legs; bring to a boil. Simmer medium-low for 30 minutes uncovered, then remove legs. Increase heat and reduce to 1 1/2 cups. When cool, remove meat from turkey legs, discard bones and skin and cut or tear meat into bite-size slivers; reserve.

Heat oil in a large skillet until hot, add onion, and cook until brown on one side, about 4 minutes. Add garlic cooking just for a minute or two until fragrant. Add greens a little at a time turning to coat until reduced enough to add the remaining greens. Add broth - a little at a time until greens are completely wilted and are barely covered with broth. (You will not use all of the broth.) Let cook uncovered until broth is reduced and greens are very tender about 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste and with freshly ground black pepper. Stir in turkey meat and serve hot.

NOTE: For winter greens mix, use the likes of turnips, collars, kale, mustard, cabbage, spinach, etc.


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