Mixed Southern Greens

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    8 to 12


Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

The standard item of soul food that appeared almost daily at my mother’s table were one form of greens or another, always cooked with pieces of pork, sometimes salted, sometimes smoked. The greens were of a common garden variety, such as mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens. These would be put on to boil with a great quantity of water and salt and allowed to cook for hours. Once cooked, the liquid is much treasured by Southern palates. It is called “pot likker,” and you sip it like soup with corn bread. If you want to be fancy, you can always make cornmeal dumplings to float on top of the cooking liquid.


  • 7 pounds mixed greens (they may include collards, kale, and turnip greens)
  • ¾ pound slab of lean bacon, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ¾ cup chopped sweet green pepper
  • 2 ham hocks (about ¾ pound each)
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 or 2 dried red hot peppers, broken into pieces
  • 2 cups water


  • Pick over the greens to remove any tough stems and veins. Wash and drain thoroughly. Use only the tender leaves, cutting or breaking them into 2-inch pieces.
  • Put the bacon in a very large heavy kettle or casserole and cook, stirring, until rendered of fat and browned. Add the onion, celery, and sweet green pepper. Cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the greens, stirring. Cover closely and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted. Add the ham hocks, salt, pepper, vinegar, and dried hot pepper. Cover and cook about 15 minutes.
  • Add the water, cover, and let simmer about 1½ hours.