Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nothin' Says Love Like Southern Greens and Ham Hocks

Hey y'all, Happy Valentine's Day! Gabriel and I have just sent off one house guest and are welcoming another tomorrow so we've got one evening to celebrate Valentine's Day before becoming hosts again. This Southern greens and Ham Hocks dish, while made for our New Orleans Mardi Gras dinner, is so delicious, it will inspire passion so I think it's appropriate for Valentine's Day too. I could not believe how great they tasted. I have no access to collard greens here in Italy so I used the 2 longest-cooking greens we have: savoy cabbage and swiss chard. I also added some smoked pancetta cubes because I only had one small ham hock left, so this is another improvised recipe. A lot of online recipes call for simmering the greens in water but I went with chicken stock for fullest flavor and that really paid off. These were the most complex and delicious Southern greens I have ever had.

Here's the recipe:

4 ozs smoked pancetta in "lardons" (matchstick shapes)
1 onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 ham hock
4 cups chicken stock
2-1/2 pounds of thick cooking greens such as cabbage and Swiss chard, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to splash as you will

In a large pot, heat the pancetta until it has rendered a lot of its fat and browned. Add the minced vegetables and sweat. Place in the ham hock and the chicken stock and simmer lightly covered until the ham hock starts to get tender, about 1 hour. Pour in the chopped greens, raise the heat to high and return to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the greens are tender. Remove the ham hock and shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot and season. Serve with love and your guests will go crazy over this, I promise. Music to go crazy over southern greens by: "Mad Over You" by Collard Greens and Gravy.


Blogger Christina said...

You can't go wrong with greens and bacon. Yum. You could probably use lacinato kale as well--I bet it's similar to collards the way it cooks. I love the tip you give here to use chicken broth.

I have a favor to ask. Do you know of any hotels near Malpensa Airport? ECG and I need to find one near the airport for the last night of our honeymoon (coming up in April), since we have to leave so early the following morning. Do you have any recommendations? It doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to be safe. Let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks.

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you had a great one!

6:14 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hey Christina, Funny, I didn't think of cavolo lacinato...We get weekly shipments of winter veggies that inlcuded chard and cabbage this week so...

Now, congratulations on getting married! I've never stayed near the airport, unfortunately so I won't be of much help. The one thing I can say is that the standard cost-value ratio for hotels in Milan is terrible! Spend lots, get little. Sorry about that...

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the process of making my from scratch chicken broth I'm trying your recipe and it sounds very yummy. ..I'll let you know how it turns out..I've got enough ham hocks BUT I'll still cut up a few pieces of bacon haha..and I'm also gonna supplement the bell pepper for some hatch green chili roasted on the stove top, skinned and chopped...this should lend lots of flavor levels...thanxs for the starter recipe that I most certainly WILL Play OFF of ;)

7:26 PM  

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