In the latest issues of Bon Appetit magazine, they are featuring Southern cooking. Because I didn't grow up in the South, I have been woefully ignorant of this kind of cooking.
This has nothing to do with a certain celeb TV chefess who espouses high fat, high sugar cooking, then cleans up with the drug companies by endorsing diabetes drugs.
This is down-home good cooking from generations of people who made the highest and best use of ingredients available to them. Several of the recipes spoke to me but one in particular called my name, Potlikker Noodles with Mustard Greens.
Reading a little about potlikker (pot liquor) taught me that it is high in Vitamin C and that some people actually sip it as a cure for the common cold. Me, I just loved it for the taste. In fact, I considered making enough to bathe in, it was so good. I halved the recipe since there are only two of us and changed the mustard greens to Swiss chard because I had the chard in the fridge.
Now, usually My Beloved and I have very similar tastes in food; this dinner was the exception. He felt the greens were too bitter for the dish - he pushed his aside. He usually likes Swiss chard, so that's a puzzle.
For myself, I thought it was so delicious that I'd have served it proudly to company. The rich goozle of the pot liquor was out of this world, lightly salty from the ham hock and rich with onion and the stewed stems of the greens. Shredding the meaty part of the ham hock and adding crisped bacon to the wide noodles and slightly bitter greens made me slow down, carefully taste and savor. And I'm not embarrassed to admit that I tipped up my bowl to slurp up the last few drops of that amazing goozle.
It's a homey dish, warm and filling and full of goodness. I found myself cooking more of this kind of food this year while we helped to support our next door neighbor and his wife while they adjusted to his mortality. This kind of comfort helps to get through tough times. He was a fine neighbor and a good man - his tragedy brings up the question, "Why him?"
Even if you aren't in need of that kind of solace, this is a lovely dish and well worth the extra time it takes to make it.