I tried to do what I read is the traditional Southern New Year’s dinner. I did not grow up eating many leafy greens other than spinach, chard, and I think maybe beet greens now and then and I doubt my mother ever cooked anything with salt pork or a ham hock! I do use both now and then, mainly when I’m making split pea soup. I had a bit of salt pork left in the freezer. (I use either so seldom that I freeze whatever’s left.) I bought the bag of washed and cut collard greens and followed the recipe on the bag of the back with a few variations.
- 4 cups water
- a hunk of salt pork or a ham hock
- 1 Tbs seasoned salt
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 Tbs onion flakes
- 3 Tbs vinegar
- 3 Tbs sugar
I cooked the salt pork in the water with the salt, garlic and onion flakes for about 40 minutes, then added the vinegar, sugar, and collard greens and simmered another 40 minutes. I realized later I was meant to serve the vinegar and sugar with the greens rather than in the water, at least according to one recipe. I still thought they tasted pretty good, but what do I know? I also read later that I was to serve them in a bowl with the “pot liquor” and dip the corn bread into it…but again, I’m obviously a Yankee so I just served the greens drained and we put butter and honey on the corn bread!
A friend used to always put a bit of vinegar in a bowl of beans when he ate them. I suppose that was a similar thing. I can’t remember even putting vinegar on anything other than fish and chips when I was growing up, as far as serving it at the table. My mom did a lot of pickled things though, which I’ve always loved, including beets, cucumbers, and even carrots sticks soaked in the leftover dill pickle juice.
The vinegar cooked down this way was hardly noticeable and perhaps the collard greens would taste even better served with the sugar and vinegar at the table. Still, greens are healthy and I’m open to trying new things. I thought these were good. My youngest was a trooper and ate the bit I put on her plate but told me she didn’t really like them. I suppose the rest will show up in a soup.0