Lessons with Clemmie (Clemmie's Greens)

I've always lived in the south, mostly in the Delta.  However, I'm afraid that I missed the part where you are taught how to cook legit southern food.  Greens, cornbread, fried chicken.  When other moms were cooking that, my mom was cooking casseroles from the JA cookbook.  Ergo, casseroles became my style. 

My husband is a man that loves some greens.  I cooked them for him once but didn't know you had to wash them as much as you do and they ended up a little sandy.  Whoops.  Enter Clemmie. 

Clemmie is a CNA and one of my co workers.  I asked her for her greens recipe one day at work, this led to a full out schooling in preparing and cooking this southern classic.  She started by venturing out the the greens patch in Rulleville to pick three bags of fresh greens.  Next step was teaching this non-country girl how to pick them.  

All you do is just pull the leaves away from the stems.  Apparently, the stems are bitter.  And I'm told that no one wants a bitter stem in their green.  After the picking comes the washing.  I thought this meant rinsing but no...they get a full out bath.  In the sink.  With soap.  Like a newborn.  

Working them real good in soapy water ensures that all of the dirt (and bird poop) gets washed off.  It was a long process but Clemmie is real funny so it was fine.  The water eventually ran clear, we bagged them up and started to talk about neckbones. 

If it were up to me, I would have skipped the neckbone portion of the green cooking.  But alas, I don't think it works like that.  Luckily, another coworker purchased a pack of smoked neckbones and just gave me some of hers.  It's odd to hold a smoked neckbone and not something I want to make a habit of doing. 

So on New Years day, armed with my new knowledge and some hope, I set out to make a mess 'o greens.  It's a long, slightly smelly process, but the smile on the misters face was worth it...

Clemmie's Greens

fresh greens (I used a mix of collards and mustards.  And it was about 1 1/2 gallon ziplock bags.  And they were already washed)
2 smoked neck bones
crushed red pepper

Place the neck bones in a large pot.  Cover with water.  Cover the pot and simmer for around 30 minutes. 

Add the greens to the pot, add some sugar to help with the bitterness.  Allow the greens to reduce, check for tenderness and taste at about 45 minutes. 

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