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Country-style Greens

2 bn Fresh collard, turnip, or mustard greens
1 tb Lard or rendered bacon fat
1 md Onion, minced
1/4 lb Smoked slab bacon or ham *
2 c Water
Salt and freshly ground
Pepper, to taste
ds Of Louisiana-style hot

* cut in 1/2-inch dices or 1/2 pound ordinary sliced bacon or ham

Contrary to rumor, greens do not need hours of boiling in a sea of liquid, as this Mississippi recipe proves. What they do need, however, is the flavor of smoked slab bacon or ham; if you must substitute ordinary bacon or ham, you'll need twice as much. Greens are the traditional accompaniment to pork or ham; they also pair up well with corn bread or candied yams.

Trim away and discard the tough stems of greens. To loosen grit, place the leaves and the remaining tender stems (you should have about 2 quarts) in a large bowl, cover with lukewarm water, and soak for 5 minutes. Rinse several times in lukewarm water to wash away any remaining sand.

Melt lard in a large, heavy, nonreactive pot with a lid. (Do not use an aluminum pot; if possible, use one with an enamel coating.) Add onions and bacon. Fry together over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions wilt and bacon starts to brown (about 5 minutes).

Add greens and the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, lower heat to medium, and cook until greens are tender, with just a little crunch (about 20 minutes).

Uncover, raise heat to high, and boil off some of the excess water (about 5 minutes). Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste, and serve hot (dish should be slightly soupy).

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