Matthew Raiford's mess o' greens
Image by Paprika Southern

“My aunt Mary Lou used to make what she called a ‘mess of greens,’ and I couldn’t get enough of them. But it wasn’t until I traveled in the military that I learned people either (1) had no idea what collards were, (2) had eaten badly cooked greens, which turned them off of them forever, or (3) were too intimidated to cook them. Greens can be temperamental: Pulled too soon from the stove, they can be tough and spiky; pulled too late, they can be a soupy, mushy mess. The liquids will make a strong stock, full of nutrients pulled from those greens.”

Matthew Raiford, excerpted from Bress ‘N’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer.

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Serves 8

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, stemmed, deseeded, and cubed
  • 2 pounds each collard greens, mustard greens, and kale, shredded and divided
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Smokin’ Hot ’n’ Sweet Seasoning (recipe follows), divided
  • 1 tablespoon pink Himalayan salt
  • Smokin’ Hot n’ Sweet Seasoning
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup steak seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Make the Greens

  1. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Then add peppers, stirring until they grow tender. 
  2. Add 1 pound of greens, 2 quarts of water, ½ cup of vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of seasoning to stockpot. Cook down for 15 to 20 minutes, then add remaining greens, 2 more quarts of water, and vinegar; cook until greens are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Just before they are done, stir in remaining tablespoon of seasoning and salt. Serve immediately. 

Make the Smokin’ Hot n’ Sweet Seasoning

  1. Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
  • Adapted From
    Bress 'N' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright by Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon, 2021. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.
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