Tender, flavorful slow-cooked greens are one of the great soul food dishes, and make an easy introduction to one of America's most storied culinary traditions. Soul food was born of the fertile cross-cultural history of the South, where African, Caribbean and European cookery gave rise to a uniquely American hybrid. The distinctive soul-food flavor of a traditional "mess of greens" comes from a combination of time-tested ingredients.
Meats aren't usually thought of as a seasoning, but in traditional soul food a variety of meats -- usually inexpensive, less-desirable ones -- lend distinctive flavors to your greens. Traditional choices include a number of fresh and cured meats, such as smoked ham hocks, turkey necks, salt pork, and bacon. Each brings its own distinctive flavor to the pot, just as the greens do, so experiment a little to see which combinations you prefer.
Herbs and Spices
How you season your greens is a matter of personal taste, and your choice of greens -- and the meat you cook with them -- will have much to do with it. However, some flavors are more traditional in soul food than others. Try varying combinations of fresh-ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, parsley, paprika, thyme, celery salt and cayenne pepper until you arrive at a blend of flavors that works for you. Southern-style greens cook for a long time, and it's best to add the seasonings early so they'll mellow and permeate the greens.
In many areas of the South, hot sauce is traditionally added to mixed greens when they are served. This isn't a universal preference, so you might choose to leave it up to the individual diner. You can also add a small quantity of hot sauce to the pot, where it will flavor the greens without adding much heat. Louisiana-style hot sauces are a good choice, and complement the greens and whichever meat you've cooked with them. However, if your favorite hot sauce is a smoky Mexican or white-hot Caribbean sizzler, feel free to give it a try.
How to Make Greek Seasoning
Greek seasoning is a blend commonly available in most grocery stores. Blending your own seasoning mixture allows you to use fresh, high-quality...
How to Make Mixed Green Salad
Bins of mixed greens are now readily available at most supermarkets. Make sure you wash and dry them before using. This recipe...
Spices to Use With Turnips
For many people, turnips are a once-a-year food found mashed alongside a holiday roast. However, these hardy and versatile root vegetables have...
Deep South Spices
From soups to barbecues to seafood, almost any dish found in the deep South has plenty of spices. The deep South is...
Why Are My Turnip Greens Bitter?
All turnip greens have some bitterness due to their high mineral content. Mature leaves and those of plants that are flowering or...
Seasoned Mixed Nuts Recipe
Making seasoned mixed nuts is easy, so long as you have access to the appropriate recipe. Get a seasoned mixed nuts recipe...
Drying & Seasoning Green Beans Before Cooking
Learn how to correctly dry and season your cooked green beans in this free how-to video on cooking with vegetables and healthy...
Adding Seasoning To Green Bean Casserole
How to add seasoning to the mixture when making green bean casserole; get expert tips on a classic American casserole recipe in...