Greens are a year-round staple in the southern states, especially on New Year's Eve along with Hoppin' John (a spicy black-eyed pea dish). As a New Year's tradition these two dishes are served to welcome good fortune for the coming year.
Any combination of greens can go into making this recipe. Collard, mustard, spinach or kale greens would make a flavorful, healthy and nutritious side or soup. Packed with vitamins C and K plus multiple other nutrients which help to fight cancer. While collard greens and spinach are available all year round in the southern states, kale would only be at its best and available in the winter in the south. The addition of the leeks create a somewhat sweetness to this dish and which are also high in vitamin C, iron and fiber. However, whether in season or not in your region of America, I guarantee, this dish will be one you will add to your "side dish or soup" repertoire.
You may serve the greens with the wonderful smoky and spicy broth as a soup, or you can strain the greens and hock meat and serve it as a side dish. Either way it is absolutely delicious!
The ingredient list below is plenty for a small family. However, I am giving this as a base. You may need to double or triple the recipe because I thought I would have plenty for 2 adults and 3 children, which under normal serving circumstances it would be. It was so addicting that I didn't have enough and everyone complained that there were no seconds.:)
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 large leeks
1 large onion, diced (any kind of onion but red)
3 quarts of water and a large pot
2 tbsp. butter
4 large cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. Louisiana hot sauce (or any other great hot sauce)
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 large smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey legs (or equivalent)
3 big bunches of mixed greens, washed (your preference)
1. Begin by heating the water in a large pot over high heat on the stove top. Add the butter, garlic, hot sauce, black pepper and the smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey legs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour. No need to stir.
2. In the meantime, clean the leeks. Using only the white and light green parts, slice the leeks in half lengthways, but not all of the way through, leaving the root still attached. This makes it easier to rinse them under the cold tap to clean them as the root holds them together. Then, slice the leeks all the way through and cut off the root. Slice into 1/2" moons.
3. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the leeks for about 5 minutes until they just start to change color (from a light green to a more vibrant green and become a little softer). Set aside with the oil from the pan. Now prepare the greens by stripping the leaves off of the stalks. Hold them in one hand and strip with the other. Stack the leaves and cut into 1" strips, then stack the strips and cut into 1" bite-sized pieces. Add all of the greens to the pot and stir. Simmer, cover and cook for approximately 40 - 45 minutes or until tender.
4. Remove the ham hocks or turkey legs and pick off the meat when they are cool enough to handle. Discard the bones, fat and skin. Chop into bite-sized pieces if necessary and then add and the meat back to the broth pot and warm through for 2 minutes.