Serves 6-8 as a side
- 2 pounds cooking greens (collards, kale or turnip, etc.)
- 1 large onion, sliced
- fish sauce, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Strip off the leaves and wash them under running water to get off any grit. (Either save the stems for stewing or keep them for a vegetable stock.) Dry the leaves in a salad spinner or pat dry with a towel. Stack the leaves on top of each other, and roll up as if for a cigar. Slice the rolled greens, giving yourself ½-inch-wide strips. Chop them further, if you'd like, which will speed up the cooking.
- Pour enough oil to generously coat the bottom of a large, wide pan with deep sides, and set it over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring to coat them in oil, and let them cook. Aim for a moderate sizzle, and when they look glassy, turn up the heat to high. When the onions start to sizzle more intensely, give them a couple dashes of fish sauce and add as many handfuls of greens as can comfortably fit in the pan. Stir them until they wilt, and add more greens, a handful or two at a time, until they're all in or until you start to really wonder if you used a big enough pan. (If that's the case, don't worry; get another pan hot, divide the greens in half, and keep cooking.)
- Once the greens have all turned bright green and started to wilt down, turn the heat to medium-low or low, and now begins the long dark journey into night. OK, not really, more like 20 minutes. Season them with black pepper and a few more dashes of fish sauce, to taste, and stir the greens every few minutes. What you're looking for is a slow sizzle, throwing off some steam as the greens' moisture evaporates. Stirring keeps the onion sugars from burning, which is really the only danger in this dish, but if you have to walk away, go ahead and pour a little water in the pan, say, a ¼ cup, and cover it. This helps prevent scorching, and you can always uncover and cook off the water when you come back.
- Continue cooking until the greens are tender, but still have a little bit of pleasant chew. Either serve right away or let them cool and reheat with a quick sauté.
Note: depending on the kinds of greens you use, and how mature or tender they are, the cooking time can vary widely. The more tender, the quicker they'll cook.
For more unconventional Thanksgiving traditions:
Tomorrow: A super-quick, super-delicious Plan B dessert