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.
- 2 pounds mustard greens; stemmed, washed, and chopped coarse
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 large garlic cloves
- ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 2 ounces (about 4 thin slices) prosciutto, cut into small dice
- ½ cup chicken broth, plus more, if necessary
- Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a soup kettle or Dutch oven. Add 1½ 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 ½ 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.
kelly @ kellybakes says
I’m so glad you posted this! The majority of vegetables we had at dinner were either from a can or in a salad, so greens are a whole new ballgame for me. In a blip of adventurism, I bought a beautiful bunch of collards at the farmers market yesterday with no idea how to cook them. I’m glad there’s a healthier way than cooking them in a ton of fat and I appreciate the tips for how to cut the bitterness :]
Cassie Sue says
With two kids I was always worried about trying to make greens healthier and have them be bitter. And figured as long as they are eating the greens that has to count for something even if they were fatty. This sounds like a fantastic compromise!
Mary Miller says
By mistake, I bought some thick sliced proscuitto instead of pancetta to make Pasta Amatriciana. It didn’t work since the ham was too tough and too salty. This recipe will work perfectly for the two slices remaining. Having lived in the South, I thought I could use it for collard seasoning, but this recipe opens up more options for different types of greens that aren’t as tough as collards, and sounds much healthier too! Thank You!