It’s fall break time at the moment (give or a take a week depending on whose calendar you go by), so a lot of folks in the area have been coming and going. I’m subbing here this week while Heather is off on a trip (you can find me most Saturday mornings over at nooga.com). The recipe I have to share is something I whipped up because my husband has also been traveling, while I was at home working my way through a lot of delicious food from the market.
My share with Tant Hill Farm started up again recently after a summer break and I’ve been loving the return to their famous powerhouse greens. However, for most of the past week, it’s been just me trying to get through all the food from recent pickups, so there was a bit of a backlog (which is admittedly a nice problem to have!).
I’ve got a fantastic go-to main dish for whenever I find myself with an abundance of greens. It’s a very adaptable recipe, and my husband and I have played around with it quite a bit, based on what we have on hand whenever we make it. At this point in the year, most of the ingredients should be available at the Main St Farmers Market.
Three to four pounds of greens might seem like a lot, but they will cook down quite a bit. Use whatever greens are available, but stick to tougher ones like bok choy and kale, mustard and collard greens, or the or tops of kohlrabies, since they will need to hold up to quite a lot of cooking. When removing any thick stems from the greens, you can chop them up too, and add as many as you like to the onions.
The bacon is completely optional. If you prefer, use some sort of sliced or crumbled sausage (the original recipe calls for ½ pound of Andouille), a vegetarian or vegan substitute, or just leave it off entirely. If you do use meat, you can cook it and then use the same pot for the greens, making this a one-pot meal. Either way, start with a Dutch oven or other good-sized oven proof pot, as the greens will take up space while they’re cooking down.
As written, the recipe calls for buttermilk for the biscuits and either milk or cream for the greens, but I rarely have any of those around. My most common substitute is to use plain greek yogurt, watered down to roughly the thickness of milk or cream (roughly half yogurt, half water). For the cornbread liquid, I also might add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to give it the sourness it would have with buttermilk. Of course, plant-based milks are also a good option.
Greens Cobbler with a Cornbread Crust
adapted from Collard cobbler with cornmeal biscuits by Sarah at The Yellow House
For the biscuits:
3/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but any kind will work)
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 teaspoons honey or agave
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the greens:
4 slices of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken stock
3-4 pounds greens, stripped and sliced into 1-inch ribbons (adding chopped stems to onions)
1/2 cup milk or cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and, if you want to spice things up a little extra, a shake of red pepper flakes or other spices, or a chopped pepper.
Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, honey, oil and buttermilk and mix until a dough forms. Turn onto a surface lightly dusted with either flour or cornmeal, and knead a few times. Roll or press the dough out and then cut into 8-12 biscuits. Put them on a sheet of wax or parchment paper on plate and set them to rest in the refrigerator.
Cook the bacon by your favorite method (I cut mine into smaller pieces and cooked it slowly in a cast iron pot on the stovetop; baking is also an option). If cooking produces some fat, you can use it for cooking the greens (if the bacon or substitute needs to be broken up, remove it to let it cool, then crumble it back into the pot; otherwise, just leave it in there while you cook the onions). If you don’t have fat from cooking meat, put a little oil into your pot and heat. Add the onions, chopped stems, and garlic, and cook while stirring over medium heat for 10 minutes or so, until the onions are translucent and any stem pieces are soft. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the greens a little at a time, so that they can cook down (and will fit into the pot). Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered, until the greens are very tender. Once the greens have been simmering for a while, turn the oven on and heat to 375 degrees.
Stir the milk and cornstarch mixture into the greens, and then let the pot simmer, uncovered, until it thickens. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, if desired. Take the biscuits out of the refrigerator and carefully set them on top of the mixture. Put in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until biscuits are brown and the greens are bubbling. Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before serving (it will thicken further as it cools).
As you might imagine, this is a really filling, savory dish that is teeming with nutrients. It also makes great leftovers, but I always separate the biscuits and greens for storage in the refrigerator, so that the cornbread doesn’t get soggy. They can then be later reassembled for reheating in an oven or microwave.