Sunday, June 15, 2008

Black-Eyed Peas and Southern-Style Greens

Here are a couple of components to a Southern style meal. You could accompany these with any number of delicious things, such as cornbread, grits, mac 'n' cheese, sweet potatoes, biscuits and gravy, etc... I like to keep the peas very simple and dress up the greens a bit.

Black-Eyed Peas

1 lb. black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed a few times
1/2 block salt pork, diced (remove rind or see below*)
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper

In a heavy pot, cook the salt pork until the fat renders and the meat is crisp. This works best if you start over moderate heat and slowly increase it. * One trick for easy removal if you don't want to eat the salt pork later, is to leave the rind intact and cut the pork into segments (like a mango). Then you can pull out one large piece at the end.

Once the pork is browned and crisp, add the onion and cook until they are beginning to get crispy and brown. Add the beans and just cover them with water. Add a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1-1 1/2 hrs, until tender. Salt at the end and add more pepper. Remove the salt pork if desired.

Southern-style Greens

This recipe is a bit more free-form. I like it better with a variety of greens, so just buy one of each in the store and throw in some stuff from the garden. You should probably start with at least 2 large bunches of greens such as: collards, mustard, turnip, kale, curly endive, or savoy cabbage. Never use something like spinach, which would turn into slime.

2 or more large bunches of greens, washed well and chopped roughly into 2" pieces
bacon fat
1 medium onion, sliced into crescents
red pepper flakes
1 ham hock
broth or water
brown sugar
vinegar (I use a combo of red wine and cider)
1 clove garlic, minced
hot sauce
salt and white pepper

In a large pot, melt the bacon fat and add the onion, some red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until the onions soften. Place the ham hock in the bottom of the pot. Add the greens as your pot allows, putting the lid on and steaming for a few minutes to wilt the leaves if you need to make room for more. Add 1-2 cups of water or broth, salt and white pepper, a few glugs of vinegar, and a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring once or twice. When the ham hock is tender, remove it and cut off any meat to return to the pot. When the greens are sufficiently tender, add more sugar and vinegar, hot sauce, 1 clove garlic, and S & P and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve with a slotted spoon. If you are feeling under the weather, drink some of the broth from the bottom of the pot!


The Middle Child said...

That seems like a really, really long time to cook the greens. Is that correct? Also, what kind of greens are you talking about?

Lillian said...

The long cook time is part of southern style greens. They're stewed for a long time (maybe even longer than what I recommended) and thus are quite soft at the end. However, since you use heartier greens for this, they're not complete mush. I recommend: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, curly endive, savoy cabbage. Never use a green like spinach, which would just turn to slime.

For a faster-cooking green, check out
That recipe is based on a Brazilian style. It can be made with just garlic and salt to good effect.