Although we appreciate fresh local produce and support small family farms in theory, The Gastronomer and I have a notoriously poor track record when it comes to finding our way to farmer's markets on the weekends. Thus I recently decided it was time for us to try a Community Supported Agriculture delivery program. When Christmas came around, along with the hilarious new Stuff White People Like book, I gave The Gastronomer a present to help us be better white people: a subscription to the South Central Farmers CSA co-op. As part of the gift, I promised that I would take charge of figuring out what to do with the bi-weekly bounty of fruit and vegetables.
I picked up our first box at a local church on the Sunday after New Years. We were excited to open it--I expected to find a variety of beautiful winter produce: apples, oranges, squash, brussels sprouts, kale, etc. What we got was a truly staggering quantity of leafy greens, and little else. The lone elements of color in the box came from a large turnip and a bunch of small radishes. It was a bit disappointing, and quite intimidating trying to imagine how we would ever find a way to use it all.
After a bit of research, we had identified all but one of the vegetables in the box, and had started to come across some enticing recipes. I started my farm-fresh cooking adventure by using the turnip and its greens in this recipe. It turned out to be a really fantastic way to get our vitamins while beginning to make a dent in the pile of greenery on our kitchen table. To reach something close to 2 lbs of greens, I added our entire stash of the mystery vegetable, which looked something like green chard but lacked its thick white stem.To help resolve the mystery of the leaf's identity, I'm breaking with tradition and publishing a Stellar Recipes post with two photos.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2009, courtesy of Epicurious.
- 2 pounds turnip greens or other braising greens (kale, collards, etc.), tough stems discarded and greens torn into small pieces
- 1 (3/4-to 1-pound) ham hock, rinsed
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 3 Gala apples
- 1 1/4 pounds turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Meanwhile, peel apples and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Add turnips and apples to greens with vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring and turning ham hock occasionally, until turnips and apples are tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes more.
Remove from heat and strain the liquid from the pot into another saucepan. Boil the liquid to reduce it to 1/3 or 1/4 of its original volume, then pour it back into the original pot with the greens. Stir in butter and salt to taste.
Remove ham hock and finely chop any tender meat, discarding skin, bone, and tough meat. Add chopped meat to pot.
Yield: 8 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 2 hours. It took me forever to wash and tear up the huge quantity of greens--being fresh from the farm, they were quite dirty.
Substitutions: Boiling away some of the liquid was suggested by several reviewers on Epicurious. The dish would have been awfully watery otherwise.