One of my lesser New Year’s resolutions was to eat more cooked greens. For whatever reason (somewhere between an aversion to extra dishes and a hatred of soggy greens), I’ve never really cooked my greens. Until now. So far, I’ve blanched and sauteed, and without a soggy green in sight, I’m loving the results.
Besides, if you never cook your greens, you’ll never get potlikker. Potlikker is the water leftover from cooking the greens, and doubles as a restorative and flavorful broth that gives chicken soup a run for its money. Here, potlikker is made with the stems of the greens, and then the sauteed greens are added later.
This stew was inspired by the Bon Appetit southern food issue. It was my first foray into potlikker, though definitely not my last. A smoky ham hock, tender greens (thanks to a very warm winter), and a touch of sriracha made for an awesome mid-winter meal.
Potlikker Soup with Ham Hock and Egg Noodles (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 more
1 large ham hock
1 yellow onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, smashed and rough chopped
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons sriracha
6 cups cold water
2 bunches dark leafy greens (kale and beet greens used here)
2 cups dry egg noodles
sea salt to taste
1 shallot, minced
fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste
sriracha to taste
In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ham hock and sear on all sides, cooking for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, wash your greens, and remove the stems (but don’t throw them away!).
Add the onions, garlic, and bay, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pot, and then add the reserved stems. Pour in 6 cups cold water, and bring mixture to a boil. Turn heat to low, and simmer broth for an hour or two (the longer the better). Broth can be made ahead up to this point. Sealed tight, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.
Remove the ham hock from the broth, and pick off all the meat. Set aside. Strain the potlikker and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the egg noodles, and cook until al dente.
In soup pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot for 4 minutes. Add the reserved ham hock meat, greens, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes. Saute for about 4 minutes. Add the potlikker, cooked noodles, and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Adjust salt and acid levels as needed.
Ladle into bowls, garnish with sriracha and fresh ground pepper, and serve immediately.