In my family no Thanksgiving would be complete without greens. Last year, I hosted my first Thanksgiving Dinner and it was also my first year as head chef. Of course, I was under the watchful eye of my Mamaw, but I did the majority of the prepping, and I’m happy to say I think I’ve finally mastered the art of making greens. However, I must admit, earlier today I placed a call to my Mamaw just to make sure I was doing it right. After all, she was raised in Rappahannock County Virginia (Vah-ginah, as she says), where you ‘bet not mess up dem greens.
Greens are not very hard to make, but they have to be made a certain way. If you googled all green recipes, prepared in a southern style, the preparation may be slightly different, but the ingredients are generally the same. My Mamaw was raised using collard greens, ham hocks and fat back to flavor her greens, but my mom always used kale and smoked turkey necks. I enjoy both but there is just something about that smoked turkey flavor. I also like mustards, and I know collards are abundant in the South, but for me kale is King. Some might even say you can’t have greens without using collards, but I just can’t get enough kale. Not only is it super easy to freeze (just in case you have leftovers), but it holds flavor really well. So for this recipe I used my mom’s ingredients and cooked them the way my Mamaw taught me. That way I can still get the best of both worlds. Enjoy!
Servings: About 4-6
Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Ingredients (I love commentary)
1 Package of Turkey Necks – For this recipe I used 5 pieces.
4 Bunches of Kale Greens
Salt and Pepper – to taste
3-4 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder
¼ Cup of Vinegar – I used Apple Cider Vinegar
Dash of sugar – just in case the vinegar is too bitter for your liking. About a tablespoon or two will do.
On medium heat, place the turkey necks in a large soup pot and cover with water. You don’t need to add too much water, just enough to cover the necks. Let cook for about 30 minutes.
Add another 4 cups of warm water to the mixture. Then place the greens on top. Season with garlic, salt, and pepper. You may not be able to fit all of the greens in at one time, if this is the case, stir greens and the steam from the water will begin to cook them, making room for more. If you run out of room with the first batch make sure you season the greens again with the garlic, salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and cook on low heat for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check back in about every 15 minutes so that you can stir the pot, and check on the water levels. You should not have to add any more water to the pot, but you just want to make sure that the levels don’t get too low, as your greens and meat will burn. Burnt greens are no bueno. Believe me, I know. When you’ve cooked the greens for at least 30 minutes add the vinegar. Taste, if they are too bitter add a dash of sugar. Also add salt and pepper, if needed. Let cook for another 15 minutes or so. As my Mamaw said when I called her to consult about how to make these, “Taste them, and if you ain’t got to do a lot of chewing, then those babies are done!”
You can set out vinegar, and your favorite hot sauce for an additional topping for this dish.