Braised Turnip Greens

Braised turnip greens with a slice of cornbread, white beans and sauerkraut and sausage.

In the cuisine of the Southern United States and traditional African-American cuisineturnipcollardkalegarden cressdandelionmustard, and pokeweedgreens are commonly cooked, and often served with pieces of ham or bacon. The boiling water, called potlikker, is used as broth. Water in which pokeweed has been prepared contains toxins removed by the boiling, and should be discarded.

So I could have just followed the recipe I shared last time for collard greens as it’s pretty much the same process. But I decided to look at turnip green specific recipes and see if there was a difference. I came up with a slightly faster recipe. Now just switching up the greens speeds it up, because pretty much any other greens cook faster than collards, but I also eliminated the step where you boil your smoked pork for two hours before you add the greens. Granted cooking that pork flavor into the broth really amps up the flavor in the finished product, but sometimes you don’t want to wait three hours to eat. By eliminating the large chunk of pork and just using bacon we manage to have the turnip greens ready in about an hour.

Otherwise the ingredients are about the same, although quantities are slightly different- starting with a smaller amount of greens, which will of course make less servings (or at least smaller ones). I definitely went a little heavier on the vinegar this time, but the extra acid balanced nicely with the sweet cornbread I sopped up the potlikker with.

I think collard greens are a little sweeter, but otherwise these are very similar flavor wise. Most of my bean dishes don’t include green vegetables, so it is nice to have include one in my white beans / soup bean meal without extra planning.

The method I shared for removing the stems from collard greens didn’t work as well for the turnip greens. A better method was to fold the leaves in half along the stem and then, starting from the leafy end of the stem, rip it off the back of the leaf. Once that was done I set out to roll the leaves and slice them like I did the collards, but found that the process of removing the stem had torn them up enough that it was easier to just tear them into bite size pieces than try to arrange a bunch of little pieces into piles to chop.

Braised Turnip Greens

Serves: 5
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total 1:15

2 bunches turnip greens
1 ½ Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 slices smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons white sugar
About 1 ¼ cups water

2 ½ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

⅓ lb smoked ham, diced
1 ½ Tablespoons canola oil, in place of olive oil
1 medium turnip, diced
1 lb fatback, in place of bacon

Wash your turnip greens in several changes of cool water to remove any dirt and grit. Remove the tough stems and tear leaves into bite sized pieces. 

Heat the olive oil and bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat until the bacon renders, 5-10 minutes. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes or so, until the onion is tender and beginning to caramelize. Add the greens, chicken broth, salt, black and red pepper and sugar. Once liquid begins to simmer and the greens have wilted down some, add water to barely cover. Bring back to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until greens are very tender (45 minutes or so)

Add vinegar and taste for seasoning. Serve with hot pepper vinegar or hot sauce, and cornbread

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