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Recipe: Richard Brazier’s Authentic Oaktown Greens

Serves: 3
Source: Richard Brazier via Tamara Thompson

Ingredients

Two big bunches of fresh greens w/stems, chopped

Using one bunch of collards and one of mustards works best, in my opinion, but feel free to use two bunches of collards or to throw in some kale, chard or beet greens, spinach, carrot tops — whatever you have around. At least half collards is a must, though.

 

One ham hock or shank

You can substitute a couple diced slices of bacon or some salt pork if that’s what you’ve got.  To make a vegetarian version, omit the meat but do add some extra butter, a pinch of salt and a splash of Braggs Aminos if you have it.

 

1/2 a yellow onion, chopped

 

3-4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

 

A good blurp of Worchestershire sauce, say, a tablespoon or so

 

A heavy dash of sweet paprika

 

Pepper to taste

 

Butter and/or olive oil



Directions

Put some butter and/or olive oil in a big soup pot and saute the onions and garlic on low heat along with the ham hock. When the fat starts to melt and the garlic and onions smell really good, add the Worcestershire and spices and a couple inches of water. Bring to a simmer on medium heat and then add the greens. Smash ‘em down to make more room as they wilt. Simmer the greens on low for 2-3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally.

 

Don’t stray too far from the pot, because you need to keep a close eye on the water level.  If you add too much water it will be too soupy, but be careful not to let the bottom burn dry. That will ruin the whole pot. Add water a half-cup at a time as needed. Conversely, if there’s too much water, take the lid off for a while and let it cook down a bit.

 

When the greens are cooked to your liking (I am not sure it is even possible to overcook greens), pull the pork piece out and trim off the fat and dispose of it. Save any usable bits of meat and chop them super small and add them back into the pot before serving.

 

Whatever you do, though, don’t waste the liquid at the bottom of the pot; it is called “potlikker” and it is awesome when sopped up by cornbread! Make sure there is some potlikker in every bowl – and yes, make sure to use bowls not plates or they will be swimming. Some folks pour the potlikker off into a glass and drink it – the original green power drink.

 

I usually cheat and make my greens in a pressure cooker in about 30 minutes instead of three hours. Here’s how: Sautee the onions and garlic with the pork in the pot, and then add the spices and one inch of water.  Add all of the greens and smash them down so you can close the lid (don’t worry, they will shrink as they cook). Put the lid on and set the heat on high. When the rocker starts chugging steadily, start timing 25 minutes and reduce the heat so it is just enough to keep the rhythm. Turn the heat off when the time is up and be sure to let the pressure diminish before opening.  Your pressure cooker may be a little different, so you might have to experiment, but that is what works in mine. (Don’t forget to add the meaty bits back into the pot!)

 

You can feed these greens to anybody who knows from greens, and even people who don’t usually like them often warm up to these.  I can’t promise that you’ll channel anybody’s grandma, but you might very well have someone pronounce that they are wuuun-der-ful!






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