Bitter greens are sweet when The Chef takes over in the kitchen. Slow cooked until tender with a rich pot liquor flavored with beer, vinegar, bacon, onion, garlic and molasses, it's a great side dish loaded with good stuff. I usually get my cooked greens from Chef Marilyn at Soul Food Express down the street on Crenshaw Blvd., but sometimes I want to go extra cheap and load up my plate. My local Latin market sells collard and mustard greens in 99 cent bundles and two will make enough for 4 servings!
My recipe is simple and adaptable, but you do have to slow-cook them for an hour and a half, and the aroma may drive you crazy with anticipation. With greens, the longer you cook them the better. You can cook collard and mustard greens together. The addition of molasses makes for a complex flavor profile -- you can substitute maple syrup if that's what you have on hand. (A good pairing is with my Mom's Jambalaya - click here for her recipe video.) This recipe calls for sauteed bacon, but you can keep it vegetarian and leave it out - add half a cup of vegetable broth instead. The Chef likes to cook with beer, and you can use any kind -- dark, malt liquor or light. So get a 24 ouncer from your corner liquor store; get cooking, and save half for yourself!
Ingredients (4 servings)
2 bundles of greens, including collard and/or mustard
12 oz. can of beer
3 slices of bacon - optional
1 whole onion - chopped
1 tbsp. chopped garlic - fresh or jar
1 tbsp. of vinegar
1 tbsp. of molasses or maple syrup
Hot sauce - about 1/2 tsp. or to your tolerance - optional
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot saute and brown bacon over medium heat, then add chopped onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Prepare greens by washing, slicing off tough ends, and chopping leaves into wide strips. Add garlic to sauteed onion and cook for a minute. Pour in beer, vinegar and molasses; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and press down greens into pot and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Greens will wilt and shrink the way spinach does. Mix well so greens keep cooking down. Once well mixed, cook for an hour; add hot sauce a little at a time and taste to reach desired hotness. Continue cooking for at least another half hour or longer, if you have the patience. Check greens and add water or stock as liquid cooks out - a half cup at a time. Simplest to serve with red beans, rice and a hot link, or Mom's Jambalaya!