Southern Style Braised Greens
Eaten on their own, bitter greens — like mustard greens, broccoli rabe, collards, turnip greens, and kale — can have a bite that’s strong and assertive. Not everyone loves the intense bitterness these greens have when left wild and untamed.But paired with the right ingredients or given a little TLC first, these strongly flavoured greens can offer a softer side, full of mellow richness. Here are five ways to tame the bite of bitter greens:
- Blanch the greens first.
Blanching helps to leach out some of the bitterness and works best with hardier greens. Simply drop the greens into rapidly boiling water for a few seconds (the greens will become more vibrant) and then drop them into ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Add strongly flavoured ingredients.
Fight bitterness with other flavours like sweetness and spice. Cook bitter greens with bacon or sausage, pump up the garlic, throw in something spicy, or add a sweet element, like roasted squash or dried fruit. Having a strong contrasting flavour will temper the bitterness and help balance the dish out since bitter greens can have a strong vegetal flavour in addition to bitterness.
- Add acid.
Acids, like vinegar and citrus juice, help to brighten up bitter greens and provide a light contrasting flavour. While bitter green salads usually already contain a good amount of acid, adding a little acid at the end of a cooked bitter greens dish will also provide the same effect of brightening and bringing all the flavours in a dish together. A splash of vinegar can do wonders for a braise, stew, or sauté that’s full of this type of vegetable.
- Use salt.
Salt is a friend to bitter greens, whether you plan to eat them raw or cooked. Mellow the bitter flavour with a sprinkle of salt on endive or radicchio, or include anchovies or cured meat (like bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto) along with mustard, beet, or collard greens. It eases an otherwise assertive bite into a tame, pleasant flavour.
- Braise them.
For sturdy greens with a bite, like rapini, collards, kale, and turnip greens, consider braising. Not only will this slow-cooking cut the bitterness, but it will also soften the otherwise tough leaves
SOUTHERN STYLE BRAISED GREENS
- 2 bunches mustard greens
- 4-5 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp oil of your choice
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2-3 tsp creole seasoning
- 1-2 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove mustard green leaves from the stem. Then wash, rinse and chop into large chunks. Repeat until all mustard greens have been removed from its stem. Discard stem and reserve chopped leaves.
- Heat up a medium or large dutch oven. Then add chopped bacon, cook for about 5-6 minutes or until brown.
- Add about 1 tablespoon oil – there should already be about 2 -3 tablespoons grease in the pot. Add onions and garlic then sauté for about 3-5 minutes.
- Gently stir in the mustard greens (a little at a time, until wilted ) followed by Creole seasoning.
- Add the chicken broth and pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until desired tenderness has been reached. Return bacon back to the pot, stir and enjoy.