Braised Greens over Polenta

I love greens, and I’ve been eating them since I was a toddler zooming around my parents trailer in pull-ups. Although I don’t have a copy, there’s a picture of me to prove it. Fortunately, my mother semi-divorced me back in 2011 after I moved “way up North” and followed through with my “supposed marriage”) and mailed me most of the pictures and memorabilia she’d collected over my childhood. While purging the gay out of her double wide, she gifted me with snippets of my history I would not otherwise have, like this cute little snap shot of my younger foodie self:

Whatever that was, I loved it!

The country girl in me still craves collards and mustard greens pretty often, and my new favorite way to enjoy them is braised to silky perfection and served over a creamy bowl of polenta with toasted pecans.

True to my roots, I always flavor my greens with smoked ham hocks, but smoked turkey wings, smoked sausage, thick-cut smoked bacon, liquid smoke, or even smoked tofu are equally delicious options so choose whatever you like best. To keep this recipe weeknight friendly, I utilized my Insta to cut down on the braising time, but if you’ve got all day to go slow and low, then go for it!

Ingredients

2 bunches mustard greens, washed and trimmed

2 bunches fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

1 sweet onion, diced

1 smoked ham hock

2 cups chicken stock

1 tbsp Tabasco, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Polenta cooked per package directions

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Method

Place all ingredients, except the pecans and polenta, in an Instant Pot, secure the lid, and pressure cook on the High setting for 20 minutes. Once the Insta signals, release the pressure per the Insta’s instructions and carefully remove the lid. Stir the greens and taste the broth. Add additional salt, pepper, and Tabasco as needed. Place the lid back on and pressure cook another 10 – 15 minutes more on the High setting depending on how tender you prefer your greens.

Once the greens are tender and the ham hock is cooked through, remove the ham hock and discard the bones. Rough chop the ham hock discarding any of the bits that aren’t palatable. (Personally, I straight up eat the skin and jiggly bits, but it’s not for everyone.) Add the chopped ham back to the greens.

Divide the cooked polenta into serving bowls. Top with greens, ham, and ladle on a generous amount of pot likker. Garnish with the toasted pecans and serve immediately with additional Tabasco.

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