I love greens!
But such was not always the case.
When I moved to the South, I can truthfully say that the sight of a pot of overcooked-to-the-point-of-
THESE ARE NOT THOSE GREENS!!!
I’ve always liked spinach, and kale, but the rest? Turnip greens? Collard greens? Mustard greens? These were uncharted plant-waters for me.
However, after reading up on vegetables that offer the most health benefits, I discovered what I bet many of you already know: Greens are at the top of the list! Nutritionists tell us that leafy vegetables are brimming with fiber along with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based substances that may help protect our health from disease.
So, I began simply sautéing various types of greens with garlic, olive oil, a few red pepper flakes, and a splash of lemon juice, or vinegar, and behold: I became a fan of greens of all kinds! (If it’s a particularly tough green, like kale, you can blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes to help tenderize them. Then sauté as mentioned earlier.)
I’m reminding you of their health benefits to help you feel a little bit better about the decadent recipe I’m about to share with you. I first ran across this recipe at epicurious.com. , but I have tweaked it a bit, to suit my personal taste. Thanksgiving is the day when many of us like to let go, and enjoy a touch of decadence in our food. This recipe would function equally well at any winter holiday meal, or on a cold winter’s night, when your soul needs a little comfort.
And, really? Bacon? And browned butter? Come on!
I asked my taste-test panel (my family) their opinion of this dish, and my 16 year old daughter summed it up nicely: “Nom!!!” When your teenaged children are scarfing down their greens as fast as they can…well…I think that kind of says it all.
Stores sell greens in bunches of various sizes, so I’ve given the amount of greens that you’ll need in terms of weight. It may seem like a lot, but when you cook them, greens quickly “cook down” to a tiny fraction in size of what they were before you cooked them. So don’t be intimidated by the volume, uncooked. Just weigh them at the store to be sure you’re buying enough. This particular recipe makes enough to feed 6, and I think it makes more than enough sauce, so when you’re finishing the dish, you might want to pour the sauce in a bit at a time, and stir, until your greens look “just right”. (Not too much sauce, in other words.)
I have made this recipe using collard greens and kale, and then I tried it again, using turnip greens. Personally, I liked it best with the collard green/kale combo, but use whatever greens you prefer, or whatever the store has on hand that looks beautiful and fresh. These pictures were taken from the batch I made using turnip greens.
Greens with Browned Butter, Bacon, and Béchamel Sauce
- 2 T. butter
- 2 T. flour
- 2 c. milk
- 2 T. minced shallot
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 1/2 lb. greens (collard, mustard, kale, or turnip)
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ slices across (these are also called lardons)
- 4 T. butter
- 1 c. finely chopped onion
- 1/4 c. cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 t. dried chili pepper flakes
- 1 T. sherry vinegar
- 3/4 t. salt
- 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
- Fry the bacon (lardons) and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
- Melt 2 T. butter in a heavy medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the flour, and cook, whisking, 1 minute.
- Add milk, slowly, gradually, whisking as you go. Then add shallot, bay leaf, and peppercorns, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce to simmer, whisking occasionally, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids, and cover surface with parchment paper touching top, to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.
- Discard stems and center ribs from greens, and then coarsely chop leaves.
- Heat remaining 4 T. Butter in pot over medium low heat until browned and nuttily fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add onion, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high, then stir in greens, 1 large handful at a time, letting each handful wilt before you add the next. Add garlic and chili pepper flakes, and sauté 30 seconds. Add sherry vinegar, and let the vinegar cook off for a minute. Then add cream. Stir. Then add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
- You can substitute apple cider vinegar if you don’t have sherry vinegar. You’re looking for an acid to play off all the creaminess. Béchamel sauce can be made 1 day ahead and stored in fridge. Greens can be washed and chopped and spun dry and wrapped in paper towels in a zip lock bag and stored in fridge one day ahead.
- Bacon can be omitted. But if you do, I weep for you.