My brother Hilton has talked about turnip greens in his blog, using a down-home recipe from our Cuz’n Don in Mississippi. Since I’m fixing a “mess o’ greens” today out of my garden, I thought you might enjoy reading a little blurb from our dad that I happened to find the other day. It comes from a little cookbook he and Mother were putting together for their church folk. Here it is in his words.
Turnip greens were what mama used to serve with southern smothered fried chicken, fluffy white rice, and creamy chicken gravy. (Sometimes she served collard greens, but we didn’t like them so well.)
When she cooked turnip greens, she’d have one of us children run out to the garden and bring in about 4 pounds of young turnips and their green tops. These were well washed and drained to remove the red Mississippi sand.
Then she boiled ¼ piece of salt pork (chopped up) in a quart of water for 15 minutes, and added the turnip greens, a pot of hot pepper, which she always kept growing in a pot on our front porch, and slowly boiled all together an hour and a half more. (The younger greens cook quicker than more mature greens, so take them off the stove when tender.)
Before serving, she cut the greens a few times across with a paring knife, before spooning into a bowl to go to the table. This served six of us.
Pepper sauce (hot red peppers soaked in vinegar in small bottles for a few weeks) is good poured on turnip greens for an extra flavor.
Lucy’s note: I happen to love a combination of collards and mustards or turnips, but perhaps collards are a more acquired taste than mustards, although some people don’t like the peppery taste of either one. I also love to make beet greens. When I harvest my beets, I use the greens that same day, and save the beets for the following day. In the South, they have a special kind of pepper sauce bottle that sits on every table, not only at home, but also in restaurants. I can’t eat turnip greens without it.
I have one more comment on the difference between Hilton’s greens and Daddy’s recipe I give here. Our dad grew up in a poor preacher’s home in rural Mississippi. While Hilton and I might put ham hocks or bacon in our greens, I suspect that Daddy’s family could barely afford to find a little piece of salt pork. The bottom line is that you start with the greens and add whatever kind of smoky meat you happen to have on hand.
How I fixed my greens today:
I put half a rasher of bacon (cut in large pieces) and my mess o’ greens (cut in large pieces) into a large skillet and let it cook. About 15 minutes before it was ready, I cut up a small red potato and added it to the mix. I sat down and ate the entire thing all by myself for lunch! I’m still reeling from the wonderful flavor! After that pig-out, it’s time for a nap, I think.
If you are growing any kind of greens, or if you pick up a “mess” at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, you might try any of these three ways of fixing them.
A hui hou!