For years I grew up eating winter greens—collards, mustards, turnips, and kale—simmered for hours with a meaty ham hock or big block of salt pork. There’s a reason for this: greens cooked this way taste good! But as you lick the grease from your lips, you know there has to be a healthier cooking method. On the other hand, quick cooking hearty greens may be good for you, but they aren’t soulful and delicious. Fortunately there’s another way and my Braised Mustard Greens with Prosciutto exemplifies the method.
I’ve found a quick two-step cooking process, first shallow blanching the washed and stemmed greens until just tender. Not only does this quick blanch tame their bitter bite, but it also quickly wilts the greens, making them much easier to chop.
Once the greens are blanched and chopped, they’re ready for their second cooking, first sautéing them with flavorful ingredients like garlic, pepper flakes, and just a hint of pork. Once the greens are sautéed, add flavor chicken broth instead of water and and then quickly braise them. The result: high flavor; high nutrition.
This same technique works collards, kale, turnip greens, so consider this a master recipe for all the hearty bitter greens, changing the flavors, as you like.
Braised Mustard Greens with Prosciutto
2 pounds mustard greens; stemmed, washed, and chopped coarse
2 tablespoons oil
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 ounces (about 4 thin slices) prosciutto, cut into small dice
1/2 cup chicken broth, plus more, if necessary
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a soup kettle or Dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and the greens; stir until wilted. Return to a boil; cover and cook until greens are just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain greens and rinse and fill kettle with cold water; add greens to stop the cooking process. Gather a handful of greens and squeeze water until only steady droplets fall from them. Repeat with remaining wet greens. Cut each wad of greens into medium dice.
Heat oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and prosciutto in a large skillet until mixture sizzles and is fragrant, just a few minutes. Add greens; sauté to coat with oil. Add 1/2 cup stock; cover and cook over medium-high heat, adding more stock during the cooking process if necessary, until greens are tender and juicy, but most of the stock is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings and serve.