Southerners love their greens. Though they might try new recipes from time to time, nothing is more comforting than the traditional pork-seasoned dish of turnip greens, kale, collards, or mustard greens. And greens must be served up with freshly baked corn bread to dip into the "pot-likker."
The least enjoyable part of preparing fresh greens is getting all the grit off the leaves (though it's even more unpleasant to eat badly cleaned greens).
The easiest way to clean them is directly in the sink or a very large pot or dish pan filled with cold water. After the tough stems and heavy ribs are cut out and discarded, place the leaves in the cold water. Let them soak for a few minutes then swish around to loosen grit and sand; drain. Repeat the process two or three times, depending on how gritty the leaves are. Even if you buy "cleaned" greens, swish them a time or two just to make sure.
Southern greens are usually served with pepper sauce, which is a mixture of vinegar and small, hot chile peppers. If you can't find this in your local market, you can easily make it. Remove the stems from 1/2 cup or a handful of small hot peppers (tabasco or similar peppers are traditional). With a sharp knife, cut a small slit in each pepper. Fill a clean, sterilized jar with the peppers. Add a few peppercorns, if you like, and then fill the jar with vinegar.
Cider vinegar or white wine vinegar are fine, or use what you have on hand.
Whether you're looking for traditional Southern flavor or something new and different, you'll likely find something to try from the recipes below. Enjoy!