Serves: Makes 6 servings
- 3 quarts water
- 1 pound ham hock, sawed into 2 or 3 pieces
- ½ large yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 pounds mustard greens, central rib removed
- Kosher or sea salt
- Hot pepper vinegar, homemade or store-bought
Procedures:A light, peppery broth made with a ham hock is ideal for cooking sturdy greens, such as mustard, turnip greens, or collards. The broth infuses the greens with meaty richness without adding much fat. You can substitute slab bacon or smoked turkey wings for the ham hock if you prefer, and you can make the broth a day or two ahead. Serve in big soup bowls with corn bread for a weekday dinner.
- Put the water in a large pot, preferably one that is deeper than it is wide so that the water will cover the ham hock. Put the ham hock in the pot; the water should cover it by 1½ to 2 inches. Add the onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming any foam, then partially cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the ham hock is tender, with the meat beginning to pull away from the bone, 2½ to 3 hours.
- Strain the broth, reserving the ham hock but discarding the onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. You should have about 1½ quarts broth; if not, add water to make 1½ quarts. Return the broth to the pot and bring to a simmer over moderate heat.
- Stack the mustard greens, a few at a time, and chop coarsely. Add the greens to the simmering liquid, stirring them down with a wooden spoon. Cook, uncovered, simmering steadily and stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Season with salt. Return the ham hock to the pot and let the greens cool in their liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible.
- To serve, reheat the greens and ham hock over moderate heat. Divide among warmed bowls, accompanying each portion with a chunk of meat from the ham hock and some of the pot liquor (cooking liquid). Pass hot pepper vinegar separately.