Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

by Kelly on November 19, 2009

I grew up in Texas and, despite my Illinois born and bred Yankee parents, I developed a true love for Southern soul food. I crave okra, gumbo, hush puppies, and barbecue all the more because it’s hard to find these culinary gems here in Milwaukee. Of all the things I crave, however, collard greens are the dish I cook the most. Not having grown up in a household where greens were ever eaten, much less cooked, it took many years of experimentation before I found a tried and true method for cooking them. Years ago, an elderly gentleman in our local supermarket stopped me as I was examining a bunch of collard greens to ask if I was buying the greens for myself. I told him they were for me and he promptly asked if I knew how to make them. I told him my back story (Texas transplant) and admitted that I had yet to master this seemingly simple dish. He made me promise to try simmering my greens with smoked turkey and, voilà!, I finally had a collard greens recipe worth sharing.

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey

Serves 8 as side dish, 4 as main course

1 smoked turkey leg
6 cups (1.5 liters) water
1 onion, diced
2 bunches collard greens
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
vinegar and hot sauce, to serve

Combine the turkey, water and onion in a large stock pot set over a medium‐high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.

While the turkey “broth” simmers, wash the collard greens. Remove the large stems from the greens and slice each leaf crosswise into 1/2‐inch strips. To speed up this process, I stack 2 to 3 destemmed leaves together, roll them up crosswise into “cigars”, then slice each “cigar” into strips. Rewash the greens again to remove any remaining grit.

Add the greens to the turkey “broth”, pushing them down until they are completely submerged. Stir in the red chili flakes and garlic. Simmer the greens until they’re very tender, about 2 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste. I usually add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Please note that you’ll need to taste the “broth” before adding the salt. Some smoked turkey is very salty and won’t need much, if any, salt.

Before serving, remove the meat from the turkey leg and pull into bite‐sized pieces. Serve the greens in bowls, topped with the turkey pieces, a splash of vinegar, and hot sauce.

***

Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon
adapted from Gourmet, October 2007

Serves 6 as side dish

1/2 lb (225 g) sliced bacon, cut into 1/4‐inch strips
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lb (900 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2‐inch cubes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Cook the bacon in a 12‐inch nonstick skillet over a medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving the fat in skillet.

Add the onions, bell pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the potatoes and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and starting to brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Stir in the thyme, bacon, and more salt and pepper to taste.

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