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Southern-Style Greens

Southern-Style Greens

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  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 8–12-ounce ham hock, chopped
  • 2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound collard greens (about 2 bunches), center ribs and stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 pound turnip or mustard greens (about 2 bunches), bottom stems trimmed, chopped
  • 1 turnip, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon wasabi powder (Japanese horseradish powder)

Recipe Preparation

  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add ham hock, onion, and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add all greens, turnip, horseradish, sugar, 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. pepper, red pepper flakes, wasabi powder, and 6 cups water. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, and adding more water by tablespoonfuls if pan is too dry, until greens are tender, 45–60 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe by Arnold s in Nashville TNReviews Section

Mustard Greens

Follow our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making our southern style Mustard Greens. Greens dominate the fresh produce available here in the South during the winter, and we’ll show you how to cook some up for a great side dish, or even the main meal of the day. They’ll go great with a hunk of cornbread. Printable recipe included.

I’ve sometimes wondered about God’s thinking regarding produce during the winter. Here it is, middle of January, it’s cold, the trees are bare and kinda drab looking, and the pickings are pretty slim at my favorite Farmer’s Market.

Greens seem to dominate everywhere. You’ll find Collards, Kale, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Mustard Greens, Winter Cabbage, and a few others.

Next, you’ll find a good number of Sweet Potatoes. At least they come in a couple of various colors, what with the purple ones, red ones, and the white one’s.

Apples, Bok Choy, Pecans, Red Potatoes, Onions and just a few other items seem to be about all you’ll find this time of year. YES, it’s a graciously good plenty of things, but it’s just not the bounty of summer. Maybe we aren’t suppose to have too much of a good thing.

Maybe, just maybe, God intends for us to enjoy the green colors of summer grass, shrubs and trees, through all the green vegetables He provides during the winter. Green is the hope of Spring and better things to come.

As you may already know, I’m not a fan of green vegetables. I know I should be, and I know they’re suppose to be good for me. I’ve just never acquired a taste for them. I totally dislike collards, even though Mama probably cooked them as good as anyone possibly could. She liked them, Daddy liked them, my sister liked them, and my older brother seems to think there isn’t much of anything any better. That even includes desserts.

You may also be wondering how I can prepare and present a recipe for greens, even if I don’t like them.

How can I even cook any that are any good? If I don’t eat them, how do I know I can cook them right?

It would be a valid question for sure.

I’d just have to say that you probably haven’t a clue as to how many chef’s, cooks, home cooks included, prepare items each and every day that they don’t personally like. Am I right?

If you invited me to your house, and you prepared some type of greens, I’d certainly take out a teaspoon of them just to taste them. Somewhere deep down inside, I think I’m still holding out that someone-somewhere, may be be able to cook some that I like. So far, it hasn’t actually happened.

Besides relying on my memories of Mamas cooking, I have a couple of friends that I often consult for advice on some of the recipes. I trust their words of wisdom as they are accomplished Southern cooks in my opinion. I listen carefully whenever I can engage them into talking about cooking at home. They’re wise in so many ways and it saddens me to think of all the wisdom that leaves us way too soon and way too often.

Saving those recipes is the point and purpose behind Taste of Southern. I’m trying to keep the old favorites, and a few that I might not even consider a favorite… alive and cooking. I hope I succeed.

So, armed with what I’ve just shared, are you ready to try some Mustard Greens? Don’t let me totally discourage you from trying them yourself. I understand that there are actually people on this earth that DO like greens. I’ve admitted that I keep trying.

You’ll find numerous and various ways to cook greens, this is just the way I prefer. If you’re ready to cook up a “mess of greens” of your own, let’s fill the sink with some water, grab a bunch or two of greens, and… Let’s Get Cooking.

Southern Mustard Greens Recipe:

Mustard Greens: You’ll need these ingredients.

Wash, wash, and wash again.

Your Mustard Greens will need to be washed if you buy them fresh or pick them from your garden. Dirt, sand, and even small bugs have a tendency to be attracted to greens. It’s pretty simple to get them clean though, so not to worry. Just wash them enough to remove any grit so you’re not feeling that between your teeth after they’re cooked.

I have two bunches of greens today, and I’ve tossed them into the sink. While filling the sink with cold water, sprinkle a couple of Tablespoons of salt in the water. The salt will kill any bugs that might be hiding on the leaves and they’ll fall to the bottom of the sink as you wash the greens.

Greens purchased fresh from the grocery store, roadside stand, or even the Farmer’s Market, have likely been washed at least once or twice already. Still, you’ll need to wash them at least once more before cooking them, just to be on the safe side.

As you swish them around in the water, look for any large and tough stems that might be included. I like to remove those and discard them. They will be stringy and tough unless you just like to cook your greens down to mush.

Some folks strip all the stems away to begin with. It’s your choice if you’d prefer to do that. They do contain a lot of flavor so I just remove the larger ones and leave the smaller ones.

Jump in with both hands and toss them around in the water. Swirl them around really good each time you wash them.

Inspect the leaves. On my last wash, I will generally pick up and inspect most of the larger leaves, looking for anything that might be hidden. Don’t worry about any holes you might find. Bugs do get on the leaves and will eat small holes through some of them. It’s not anything to be concerned about, so just rinse the leaf well and place it in a large bowl.

This is my water after washing them the first time. Not bad, but it’s stuff that will not be in the finished greens after they’re cooked.

I knew these greens had already been washed pretty good to begin with, but as you can see, they still had some grit and grime on them. I saw a few small bug holes in some of the leaves, but didn’t see any bugs. Smile.

On the last wash, I inspect most of the larger leaves pretty carefully. Then, swishing them around in the water one more time, I lift them out of the water and gently shake off the excess water. It took a few minutes, but I figured it was worth the extra effort to insure they don’t have any secret things lurking around on the leaves.

It’s hard to tell, but I placed them in a large stainless steel mixing bowl that just does fit into my sink. Keep this photo in mind as you read on down. You might be surprised at how much this big bowl of greens will wilt down once cooked.

I didn’t find a lot of large stems, but I did remove a few. I also found a couple of brown stems that I pulled out. These pieces will be discarded.

This is about one third of the washed greens in this pot. I could have used a larger pot, but I know they’re going to cook down, so I’ll just add more as they wilt down a bit.

Place the greens in a fairly large stock pot and set that on your stove top. Turn the heat on Medium.

You can add about a cup of water at this point, but the greens will produce water as they cook. Either way, we’re going to be throwing this water away once they cook down.

As the greens begin to wilt down, stir them around a bit to bring the one’s from the bottom of the pot up to the top.

Add more greens as you have space in the pot until all of the greens have been added.

You can already see that the greens have cooked down quite a bit. Once they’re all in the pot and wilted down, I like to add a teaspoon of sugar. Mama always did, and I always feel like I need to as well. Don’t fault me for that… okay?

The sugar helps cut back on some of the bitterness of the greens.

I leave the pot uncovered and just let the greens simmer a bit. Just make sure you have a little water in the bottom so they don’t dry up and burn.

Let the greens continue to cook while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. It will not hurt to let them simmer for about 15-20 minutes from this point, or even longer.

Prepare your seasoning meat of choice.

I had a chunk of Hog Jowl leftover from my New Years Day Meal, and decided to use it in the Mustard Greens. You could use side meat, ham, bacon, ham hocks or even smoked turkey meat if desired. Just use what you have on hand or what is the cheapest at the grocery store.

I sliced off three pieces of the hog jowl and will fry those up for later. I cubed the remaining piece of the hog jowl to add to the greens. I’ll be using a little more than 1/4 lb. of seasoning meat, but you could use more if you like. Make it your own.

Chop the onions.

Don’t cut them up too small because they’ll cook and burn too quickly in the step down below.

The greens simmered for about 20 minutes. Take them off the heat and pour them into a colander. Drain all the liquid and just let it go down the drain. I don’t consider this to be the “pot-liker” so many folks refer to. Just discard it.

Remember all those fresh greens we started out with? This is what they look like cooked down. Not a lot, but plenty for a good meal for several people.

At this point, the greens could be allowed to cool and then frozen for cooking later. It’s a bit more cooking than just being blanched, but greens need to cook a good bit anyway, so freezing them at this point would work well.

I opted to chop the greens after cooking them.

Looking back, I think it would have been better to have cut them up with a knife once they were washed and drain. Many people prefer to do it that way and it probably works a bit better. The greens were still a bit tough at this point and it made for some hard chopping to get through the thicker stems. It also left a few longer stems, which in turn had strings and weren’t as pleasing to the mouth as they might have been had they been sliced into smaller pieces before being cooked.

Do it either way you like. Maybe my chopper is just getting dull. Set the greens aside for the moment.

Place your favorite cast iron skillet over Medium heat on your stove top.

Add your choice of seasoning meat to the pan once it’s heated. We’re going to let this brown a bit. I’m also cooking my slices of hog jowl at the same time. I’ll remove it later. Stir the meat around as it cooks and don’t let it burn.

Once the meat is lightly browned, toss the chopped onions into the skillet right on top of them.

The meat just needs to be slightly brown when you add the onions. We’ll let it all cook together for awhile.

The hog jowl produced a good amount of grease as it cooked. This is good, as the onions don’t burn so easily with a bit more grease in the pan.

Onions need to cook until tender and slightly translucent. This could take about 10 minutes, so if the meat had overcooked, it would be hard little pieces after all this time in the skillet. The onions are fairly tender at this point and the meat is still tender as well.

I took a spoon and scooped out just about all of the excess oil at this point. I don’t need it, so it went in the grease container that stays near the stove.

Give everything a good stir and just let it cook a little bit longer.

Place the mustard greens in the skillet, right on top of the browned meat and the tender onions.

I had just enough to fill the skillet.

Next, add about 1-1/2 cups of water. I used water straight out of the tap and poured it in the skillet with the greens.

Chicken broth could be added instead of water. You might like to try that some time.

Let the water heat up to a slight simmer.

REDUCE the heat down a notch or two, and let the greens simmer for 10 minutes.

After about 10 minutes, remove the lid and stir everything around a bit.

Taste the greens at this point to see if they need some salt. You may decide you don’t need any at all, depending on the flavor from the type of seasoning meat that you used. Salt lightly at this point, you can add more later if need be.

I also add about 1/4 teaspoon of Black Pepper to the skillet. Add it if you like it.

Give everything a good stir to mix in the salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet again, and let the greens simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the greens are as tender as you’d like them. We all have different tastes, so you can cook them much longer if that’s the way you like them. The stems will take the longest to cook down until tender.

Most of the older Southern cooks let greens cook for hours. Just keep a watch on them to make sure they have liquid left in the skillet. You could add more liquid if you’d like. This liquid from the final cooking is a prized part of most cooked greens dishes. We call it pot-liker and it’s good poured over a big piece of cornbread.

Some folks just pour the liquid into a coffee cup, crumble up some corn bread in the cup, and drink it. There really wasn’t much liquid in the skillet once my greens had cooked down. Other cooking methods might produce more of the liquid if that’s what you’re after.

Continue to simmer the greens, covered, until they are to your liking.


Southern Style Green Beans

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Southern Style Green Beans are made with fresh green beans cooked low and slow flavored with salty bacon. This traditional southern side is served on just about every table in the south!

Home cooked vegetables are a staple in the south. They most always are cooked with some type of fat. It's either ham hocks, butter, or some type of pork! I grew up cooking green beans with bacon! I mean really is there any other way?

Well I know there are a thousand ways, like my Instant Pot Garlic Butter Green Beans (they are bacon free), but for these beans they just have to have bacon. Bacon glorious bacon!

There is much talk about how people like their green beans! Crisp, crunchy, soft, cooked to death, or just in the middle! They can get quite passionate over these little fellas! Personally, I like them cooked all kinds of ways, but this is one of my favorites. And I sure hope you enjoy them as well!

These are a traditional Southern Style Green Bean. Cooked until soft, infused with bacon, salty with a peppery note. I also add some red pepper that gives them a little extra kick. We like a little spice to ours. But if you don't like that spice, this can totally be omitted. After all, my momma never used red pepper!

How to make Southern Style Green Beans

  • Add in green beans, chicken stock, salt, black pepper, garlic, red pepper (if desired) and give a big stir to mix up.

  • Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and then turn down to medium to medium low heat and cook for 1 to 2 hours. All stoves cook different, you know your settings but you want to cook these low and slow. I like them at about 1 to 1.5 hours for my preference.

Serve these with a little extra crumbled bacon on top to make them extra delish!

Remove from the pot and place in serving dish with a little extra crumbled bacon on top if you want to get a little fancy! Maybe when you have company coming! At home we just dish them out of the pot from the stove top most of the time!

These are also great for pot lucks, church suppers or taking a side to BBQ! Just put them in a covered dish and you are all set!

Southern Style Greens

This was a staple on every holiday table I had growing up. It’s super easy to make – for this recipe, I used collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens. I hope you enjoy!

3 bunches of collard, turnip, and mustard greens, rinsed, trimmed, and chopped (I chop some of the stems too, why not? you paid for it. )

1 pound of smoked turkey wings or tails

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of onion powder

1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 tablespoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons of your favorite Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoons of red pepper flakes

This is more of a process…so read along.

1. Dump the greens, smoked turkey wings or tails and water into the pot and bring to a boil. Allow to cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes. The greens should be fragrant and they should have cooked down some.

2. After about 45 minutes, add all the seasonings along with more water, if needed. Allow the collard greens to cook on simmer for about 10. Then serve and enjoy warm.


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Hi Darius! I hope this message finds you well. Two questions: how do you know if your greens need more water? Any frying tips? (I super suck at frying)

when u fry just make sure its low heat..

I cook mines like this, but never have use Cajun season . I will try this . Thanks a bunch…..

Please add me to the mailing list

Im trying to pre order your cookbook..but it takes me somewhere else

I made these greens on Sunday and let”s just say I’m not usually a cooker. However after cooking these and the Mac and Cheese for my family on Sunday “I’m a great cook” Well at least that”s what they said. Thanks Darius for all your recipes, videos, periscope sessions and hard work. I really appreciate it.

With love

Hey Darius I grew up with a lot of these recipes and I enjoyed them a lot . I actually tried the cream spinach and salmon but I used low fat options …do you think in the future you will be showing lower fat options..diabetes and high blood pressure runs in my family so I’m changing my diet and I work out .

Love the recipes. I will have to try lots of them.

You are amazing….I love your Mac & Cheese….

My question is, there was a post if Turkey legs for your greens and it said the greens would simmer for hours, this recipe doesn’t say hours. How long should they cook for?

I cook mine with smoked neckbones..and also use like a tablespoon of white vinegar

I am looking forward to trying out Darius’s recipes. Actually, I’m ecstatic for this site. My past experience with following quite a few website recipes is folks have never prepared them and they turn out to be a big disappointment. I’m being positive with Darius’s site. (my nephew’s name is Darius, so I take that as a good omen) I’ve got to try the mac n’ cheese on my husband. To whomever is interested I’ll keep you posted.

Your food is awesome… I am a southern girl born n raised but since living here in the city we rarely get to taste down home food like this.. I miss my big mama. Lol
congratulations on your success..

Recipe for pork neck bones?

I made these last weekend for my man and he loved it. My friends tried it and everyone was like dang Raven you can cook lol. I’m definitely buying the cook book when I get some money saved up

How do u make for Corn Pudding? Thanks

Okay so I dont let the meat cook first?

Great and easy recipe but it’s some type vinegar.. didn’t have vinegar so used Italian dress omg bomb!

Great and easy recipe but it’s missing something.. I add Italian dressing and omg

ADD italian dressing gives it a good kick

HI….Did you use 3 bunces of each type of greens?

Has anyone made this without the sugar or using a sugar substitute? My mom’s a diabetic and we try to avoid added sugar or carbohydrates.

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Southern-Style Collard Greens

2 cups water
1/4 cup diced onion
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon honey
4 cups chopped fresh collard greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

Where to Buy Clifty Farm Products

I can honestly say, these were my best pot of turnip greens to date! The Clifty Farm pork jowls added so much more flavor compared to my old method. Clifty Farm is in the process of rolling this product out to more and more stores over the next few months. I am very excited, as this will be my go-to way to season a pot of turnip greens from now on. In the meantime, you can purchase Clifty Farm pork jowl and their famous country ham online.


  1. Remove and discard stems and discolored spots from greens.
  2. Chop greens, and wash thoroughly two to three time to insure no grit set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Roughly chop raw bacon and render in a large stockpot, with canola oil over low heat for 5 minutes before adding chopped onion.
  4. Increase to medium high heat and cook until onions are translucent.
  5. Add diced ham, crushed red pepper, honey, vinegar and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  6. Add cleaned, chopped greens and simmer for approximately four hours without lid, stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed.
  7. Once greens are fully cooked and tender, taste for seasoning and add salt if desired.

Note: The juice from cooking the turnip greens is called “Pot Liquor” and can be used as a dip for your biscuits or cornbread.

Southern Style Vegan Collard Greens

Food brings people together and keeps tradition, heritage, and culture alive. It’s also a way to be able to share with others your history and family. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin on a diet that was heavily influenced by German cuisine. Spätzle, strudel, stews, soups, and breads. There were also plenty of Spaghettios, fish sticks, and Hunt’s spaghetti sauce. In my adulthood I’ve branched out and really made it my focus to try all the food, learn to cook it, and appreciate the cultural heritage that is behind meals. I want to experience other cultures and the food that connects people. The challenge for me though is that I’m vegan and live in an area with really limited options.

Food, with its flavors and aroma, is one of the most powerful memory creators and inducers, so it makes sense that when you want to learn about a culture you need to eat its food. Think about how often you smell something and you’re instantly in a memory from your childhood or a special event. Marcel Proust’s autobiographical character ate a cookie and wrote a several thousand page book containing a lifetime of memories in Remembrance of Things Past. Food is powerful, and we need to keep real food thriving so that the next generations have memories of home cooked meals that didn’t come out of a box or the freezer.

Jump to Recipe

This year I’ve been cooking a lot more and getting into cuisines that I’ve never really experienced before. As I cook or design recipes I try my best to stick to traditional flavors and techniques as much as possible or that I know how. As a vegan it makes it a challenge to cook traditionally when the time honored recipe uses meat or animal products as a main flavor or base. But, I do my best and try to make something so that I can experience flavors and dishes that I haven’t before.

A little while ago a friend of mine told me I needed to make Collard Greens. I had been getting really into Indian food and coming up with vegan methods to sub animal products. She said that she’d love to see how I veganize this classic dish. I did a lot of research on the traditional flavor profile and what flavors are needed to mimic ham hock. But, it is so much more than just trying to mimic a flavor. There’s a whole, rich cultural background when it comes to Collard Greens. When you take that bite of slow cooked greens and dip your corn bread into the pot likker you’re not just eating a meal, you’re taking part in a culture and a history, that for me as a white man from Wisconsin, I don’t want to appropriate, but appreciate.

What are collard greens? That name refers to two things: the actual plant and the meal. The greens themselves are similar to kale but not curly and more hearty, thick, and woody. The finished meal though is simply magical. It’s soul food for a reason, because that first bite…it hits. Close your eyes and savor it.

From What’s Cooking America: “Collard greens have been cooked and used for centuries. The Southern style of cooking of greens came with the arrival of African slaves to the southern colonies and the need to satisfy their hunger and provide food for their families. Though greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as “pot likker”) is of African origin. The slaves of the plantations were given the leftover food from the plantation kitchen. Some of this food consisted of the tops of turnips and other greens. Ham hocks and pig’s feet were also given to the slaves. Forced to create meals from these leftovers, they created the famous southern greens. The slave diet began to evolve and spread when slaves entered the plantation houses as cooks. Their African dishes, using the foods available in the region they lived in, began to evolve into present-day Southern cooking.”

Articles that go into further depth and perspective on the cultural importance and prominence of collard greens.

  • Hungry for History – Collard Greens from
  • A Letter to the Newgrorati: Of Collards and Amnesia from

This recipe for collard greens is a veganized version I came up with and by no means “The Best Way” to make these greens. I will say that they are easy to put together, because the only person really cooking is Time. The whole point of soul food is to let soul get into it, and that doesn’t happen fast. Low and slow is the key to great greens. Collard and mustard greens are thick and bitter when raw, but a long cooking time lets them break down, get soft, and meld with all the other flavors. You can serve them as a side dish or, like I’ve been doing, plates on plates of it to make it a whole meal. I’ve even been eating it for breakfast lately because it’s just so damn good.

Traditionally, collard greens are cooked with ham hock, but I wanted a way to get similar flavor while cutting out the ham. With just a few ingredients, and I stuck to ones you can find at most grocery stores, you can get that salty and smoky flavor that cooks down into the most delicious Pot Likker (that flavor infused liquid at the bottom of the pot).

I’d love for you to try out this veganized version and let me know what you think. Just don’t try to rush the process. Low and slow. Give it a few hours of stovetop time. If you want to be really cranky and/or pissed Google “collard greens” and check how many quick recipes there are out there. Bright green bowls of wet salad. It’s maddening. Or you can check out the Whole Foods fail where they said “Here’s how to cook them” but showed undercooked collards topped with peanuts and dried cranberries. Don’t be like them.

Recipes From 'B. Smith Cooks Southern Style'

Braising is a method of cooking that involves first browning an ingredient such as meat or vegetables, then finishing cooking in a liquid over low heat. This slow style of cooking allows you to create dishes with incredible flavor and tenderness. While this dish isn't a traditional braise, I use the term because there's a whole lot of slow cookin' goin' on in this soup of vegetables, black-eyed peas, meat, and greens. I like to use kale or collard greens in the recipe because they hold up well to this type of slow cooking. Serve this hearty soup with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping!

1 1/4 cups (about 10 ounces) dried black-eyed peas, or two 15-ounce cans cooked black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced sweet onion, such as Vidalia
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups chopped kale or collard greens, stems discarded
1 cup diced pork, ham, or smoked turkey breast
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup cooked barbecued rib meat, shaved off the bone and chopped, optional for garnish

1. The day before serving, in a large bowl, place the dried black-eyed peas. Cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Or, to quick-soak the peas, place them in a large pot or Dutch oven, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover tightly, and let stand for 1 hour, then drain and rinse thoroughly.

2. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, and saute for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the bay leaves, kale or collard greens, and meat to the pot, and saute, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock, soaked dried black-eyed peas or drained and rinsed canned black-eyed peas, Creole seasoning, and oregano to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the peas are tender.

4. Remove the bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately, garnished with chopped rib meat if desired.

Southern-Style Collard Greens
Yields 8 servings

Collard greens are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. This recipe is reminiscent of my mother's. She seemed to let her greens simmer away for hours! I make mine with ham hocks, which help tenderize the greens and add flavor, along with a little brown sugar to take away any bitterness. A lot of Southern families serve their greens with a side of bread to dip in the cooking broth, known as pot-likker. The broth is packed with vitamins and refers to the leftover "liquor" in the pot, after your greens have cooked. It not only tastes good — it's really good for you!

4 smoked ham hocks
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
4 pounds collard greens
Chicken stock or broth, or water, as needed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse the ham hocks and score the skin in several places. In a heavy 8- to 10-quart pot, combine the hocks, onion, and bay leaves with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the hocks are falling apart.

2. Remove the ham hocks from the cooking liquid and reserve the meat, discarding the bones, skin, and fat. Strain the cooking liquid, skim off the fat*, and return it to the pot.

3. While the ham hocks are cooking, remove the stems from the collard greens and roughly chop set aside.

4. Add enough chicken stock or water to the cooking liquid to make 6 cups. Add the chopped collard greens, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and reserved ham. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the greens are very tender. Serve immediately.

*Defatting Ham Hocks: Since ham hocks tend to be a bit fatty, you can prepare them ahead to remove as much fat as possible. Once you have finished cooking them off, remove the pot from the heat, allow it to cool to room temperature, then cover and place the pot in the refrigerator. Allow the hock mixture to chill for at least an hour or overnight so the fat comes to the top. Skim off all excess fat before proceeding with the recipe.

Excerpted from B. Smith Cooks Southern-Style by Barbara Smith. Copyright 2009 by Barbara Smith. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

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