Greens Cooked with Bacon

In the South, it is a New Year’s Day tradition to eat black-eyed peas and collard greens. When I was a kid, I was convinced that this “tradition” was a trick to get me to eat things like black-eyed peas and collard greens. Now, of course, I realize this is one of many New Year’s food traditions designed to bring good luck and money in the coming year. I like both foods more now, anyway, and besides, who am I to buck tradition? They may know something I don’t.

So this year for New Year’s Day dinner, we had a contemporary but rustic menu featuring pan-roasted sausages, swiss chard cooked in bacon and black-eyed pea salad with roasted butternut squash, peppers and goat cheese (recipe from Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster).

I actually reworked the black-eyed pea salad into a soup a couple of nights later, adding some crumbled bacon and serving it with croutons smeared with goat cheese, and I liked it even more. That should just remind me that I usually prefer bean soups over bean salads.

For me, the real hit of the night was greens cooked in bacon. This is a very simple way of cooking any kind of greens, including collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, spinach and chard, which I used. The result is bright green and tasty with a strong (but not overwhelming) flavor of bacon, unlike the way overcooked, mushy, overly meaty greens I remember from my childhood. (It may be heresy, but I do think it’s possible to improve on some Southern recipes.)

Best of all, this is so easy to make that you can eat it much more often than once a year. That is, if you didn’t make a resolution to stop eating foods cooked in bacon fat. Enjoy.

Greens Cooked with Bacon
Time to make: ~30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

What you need:

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 bunches cooking greens, washed and stems removed
  1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp and remove to paper towels to drain.
  2. Reduce the heat to low.
  3. Add the greens to the bacon fat, cover and cook over low.
  4. Stir occasionally and add a tablespoon of water if needed to keep from sticking.
  5. Remove greens when cooked to desired tenderness, as little as 5 minutes for spinach, up to 25 minutes for tougher greens.
  6. Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Inspired by a recipe from Fresh Every Day.

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3 thoughts on “Greens Cooked with Bacon

  1. A Year in Cooking (2008) « Simply Cooking 2 January 2009 at 11:31 am

    […] — Greens Cooked With Bacon: So simple, so good. It’s no wonder this is a classic, but it’s a revelation for people […]

  2. A Simple Mushroom Salad « Simply Cooking 3 January 2010 at 1:05 pm

    […] to my dad’s house for the traditional New Year’s Day meal of hoppin’ john and collards. I don’t know if it’s still good luck to eat these things on the second day of the […]

  3. […] Greens (chard, collards, kale, etc.): boil or wilt in bacon fat […]

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