Talk about down home food! Greens are one of those basic, easy to make, goes with anything foods. If you've never had greens, try them just once. You have too :) After all, you wouldn't have a whole section of the country making them on a regular basis if there wasn't something to them!
I have made greens enough times that I don't really use a recipe. Every person I know who makes greens frequently says they have developed their own version- how long they cook the ham hock, how much spice they add, what kind of greens they use (kale, collard, or mustard or a mix, like I do) and how long they simmer the greens once they are added. This is my version. Hope you like it!
1 large bag mixed greens or at least 5 bunches of mixed greens
1 ham hock or smoked turkey wings
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Place the ham hock or turkey in a large pot, add enough water to cover the meat. Add seasonings. Heat on high until boiling, then turn down the heat to medium high. Cover and cook for at least an hour, adding water if needed. Meanwhile, wash greens throughly. If using bunches of greens, strip leaf down thick stem by gripping end of stem and running your hand down. Add greens to pot. Greens will cook down a lot, so don't worry if it seems like a lot of greens to add. Cook greens on medium (soft boil) for another 1-2 hours, stirring as needed. Add more seasoning, if desired. Before serving, chop any ham or turkey meat and stir into greens. Remove remainder of ham hock or turkey. Serve with cider vinegar.
The liquid created when boiling the ham hock is called pot likker (pronounced like "liquor") and is eaten along with the greens by dipping cornbread into it, like a gravy. It's very good!
"Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."