Cook the Book: Turnip Greens with Smoked Slab Bacon

Cook the Book: Turnip Greens with Smoked Slab Bacon

Greens have been experiencing something of a renaissance at my house recently. For some reason all we have been eating for the last few weeks are leafy greens, collards, kale, mustard, and dandelion greens. The usual preparation is a quick sauté with some garlic, white wine, and stock, and occasionally a bit of pancetta or bacon thrown in. Served over rice with a poached egg, there is nothing I'd rather eat.

Needless to say I had greens on the brain when I was looking through Chis Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book. I love Southern-style braised greens with their porky pot liquor, so I was eager to give this recipe a try. I have always thought that the best way to incorporate bacon into greens was to render it first and then add the greens. This recipe has you add bacon directly to the water in which the greens are boiled, creating a quick bacon broth.

I couldn't find any turnip greens so I substituted mustard greens. The greens wilt into the broth and in go the rest of the ingredients. The bacon plus the natural spiciness of the mustard greens filled the kitchen with a heady aroma that made me wonder why I don't cook mustard greens more often.

The greens turned out wonderfully—toothsome and tender at the same time—and just the right amount of smoke from the bacon. The greens are great on their own but are even better when finished with a few dashes of Just Add Greens Pepper Sauce. Pepper sauce is a standard Southern condiment and a great way to add a bit of spice and tang to greens, black eyed peas, barbecue, or anything, really. It couldn't be easier to make—hot vinegar plus chiles, and that's it. The chiles pickle and the vinegar grows more flavorful the longer you keep it.

Win 'Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book to give away this week.

  • Yield:6 to 8


  • 2 pounds turnip greens (collard or mustard greens can be substituted or mixed)
  • 1/2 pound smoked slab bacon
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Just Add Greens Pepper Sauce (recipe follows)


  1. 1.

    Wash the turnip greens in cold water and drain well. Repeat the process twice, making sure that all sandy grit is removed from the leaves. Cut off and discard the tough stems and any discolored greens.

  2. 2.

    Place the bacon in a medium stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil and cook at a rapid simmer. Gradually add the greens, stirring to wilt before adding another batch, until all the greens are in the pot. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the greens are tender.

  3. 3.

    Top each serving of greens with a few dashes of pepper sauce or serve the sauce on the side.

  4. 4.

    Just Add Greens Pepper Sauce

  5. 5.


  6. 6.

    1 bunch of mixed peppers (container size determines amount, desired hotness dictates variety)

  7. 7.

    2 parts white balsamic vinegar

  8. 8.

    1 part apple cider vinegar

  9. 9.


  10. 10.

    Warm a glass container by submerging it in hot water (this will prevent the glass from cracking when hot vinegar is added). Wash the peppers well and stuff them loosely into the glass container.

  11. 11.

    Pour both vinegars into medium-size nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. When it reaches a boil, pour the hot vinegar over the peppers, filling the container. Cap the jar and set it aside at room temperature for a few days to allow the vinegar to absorb the pepper flavors. Store the sauce in a tightly covered jar for up to 2 months at room temperature.