December 4, 2011

Mustard Greens

I learned to cook from my mother who came from a very large family of twelve kids, so I learned to cook in bulk from a very young age. I thought it was perfectly normal to have 20 people over for a 'small' Christmas Eve gathering, which my mom would go all out preparing food for. As I got older I feel in love with cookbooks and prepared menus for my parents, complete with appetizers, a main course, and a dessert. Soon after that my mother decided to stop cooking and let me take over. I somewhat walked into that one. After moving 2500 hundred miles away and meeting my husband, I quickly learned that food is cultural. The foods that we all grow up on are greatly influenced by the area in which we live. While I thought salmon, apples, and cherries were common ingredients, I had no idea how to prepare biscuits and gravy or pinto beans. After living in West Virginia almost nine years now I make all the typical comfort foods and am raising two very definite West Virginians (just ask the youngest to say milk). One of my husband's favorite foods that I have taught myself to make are Mustard Greens, here's my easy recipe.

The main thing to remember with mustard greens is to wash them thoroughly. There are large amounts of dirt and sand on greens and if you don't soak them well enough the greens will have bits of grit, which are less than pleasant to eat. I normally make about 2 bunches of mustard greens for a typical meal. While this might sound like a lot, they break down significantly and shrink a great deal.
  • 2 bunches Mustard Greens
  • Tony Chachere’s seasoning or any Seasoning Salt to taste, normally 1-1 1/2 tsp.
  • Ham Hock, Smoked Turkey Leg, or Slab Bacon. I have even used sliced ham when I had nothing else.
  • Enough water to cover about 1/4 of a stock pot
Cut the stems out of the mustard greens. The greens can either be kept as is without the stems or chopped depending on your preference. Add the greens, water, meat, and seasoning salt. Let cook on low for approximately 4-6 hours, adding water as needed. Don't throw away the cooking liquid! The potlikker is delicious to dip biscuits or bread into and is my husband's favorite part. If you don't want to use the stove most of the day I have also made greens on low in my crockpot for 8-10 hours and they have turned out just as well.

Mustard greens have become a stable in my house and are very easy to prepare. A great way to get vegetables into your family's diet and are yummy with cheddar biscuits or homemade bread to dip the potlikker. A great homemade, comfort food!
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