“You made fun of me with that squash post so you’d better write about this.” Mark’s right. I did make fun of him and now payback’s hell. We were at the farmer’s market this morning, picking up sausage from West Wind Farms, potatoes from Delvin Farms and cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, when Mark spied the greens. Turnip greens, to be exact.
Mark and I have different childhood food memories. Mine are mainly bad because my mother was not an enthusiastic cook. His are mainly good, given that he had a great grandmother, Granny Belle, who could make anything taste delicious. It is from her that Mark acquired a love of cooked greens of any kind, cornbread, beans, rice, country ham and red eye gravy, and blackberry cobbler. So he zeroed in on those turnip greens. But I wasn’t in a turnip green mood and told him just to buy what he’d eat because I was having none of it. So he bought some greens and some whole turnips and a hunk of country ham hock.
I must say, turnip greens bubbling away are not the most photogenic thing in the world.”Mmmm,” Mark whispered as he came into the kitchen midway through the cooking of the greens. “Doesn’t this smell great?” Turnips and their greens are a relative of the cabbage and the aroma of both as they are boiling is not pleasant to all. But Mark smells his childhood.
So as to not appear completely unsupportive, I offer to make some cornsticks. I make really good cornsticks. The secret is to take the Crisco and put it in the cornstick pan, then stick the whole thing in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes before you add the batter.
Well, I would have eaten my words if my mouth hadn’t already been full. The greens were just delicious. Tender from a long boil and salty with the taste of country ham that was now falling off the bone.
As with almost everything Southern, this is more a procedure than a recipe.
Turnip greens and country ham
1-2 bunches turnip greens, depending on size (they wilt down quite a bit so get more than you think you’ll need)
3 small turnips
1 hock of country ham
Trim the greens of their stems. Peel the turnips and cut into uniform pieces. Put the greens, turnips and ham into a slow cooker and add enough water to cover. Cook them at 250 degrees for about three hours. You can also just do this in a heavy pot on the stove. Serve with homemade cornbread or corn sticks to sop up all the pot likker.