Braised sweet potato greens. Photo by Amy Evans Streeter.
As part of this year's Delta Divertissement, we gathered in Greenwood to celebrate the agricultural possibilites of the Mississippi Delta. What's the future of farming in this place once known as the Cotton Capital of the World? Three words: sweet potato greens.
Our friend Bonita Conwell harvests these greens at her farm in Mound Bayou, MS, a town that was settled by free blacks in 1887 and has long been known for its sweet potatoes. Only recently has there been a demand for the greens.
Taylor Bowen Ricketts of Delta Bistro in Greenwood cooked Bonita's greens as part of the Divertissement's Friday breakfast (see photo featured above).
We were also lucky enough to have Mississippi-native Ann Cashion, former SFA Board member and chef/co-owner of Johnny's Half Shell in Washington, DC, with us in Greenwood. Inspired by Bonita's commitment to marketing sweet potato greens, Ann developed a recipe for them.
If you can't get your hands on sweet potato greens, feel free to substitute the greens of your choice in Ann's recipe below.
But remember, if you plant sweet potatoes in your garden, save those greens!
ANN CASHION’S SWEET POTATO GREENS SPOONBREAD
10 oz. by weight sweet potato leaves, trimmed from their stalks with 1-2” of stem retained (approx. 1-1/2 pounds of greens)
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound of butter
2/3 cup white cornmeal (artisanal if possible)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
Dash of Tabasco or hot pepper sauce (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
* * *
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Blanch leaves briefly, just until water returns to a boil. Refresh in ice water. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop.
2. Heat ¼ cup olive oil or other vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and let them sauté until they are golden. Add the chopped greens and sauté to heat through and distribute the onions. SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER to taste while sautéing. Set aside.
3. Prepare a 9” cake pan with 2” sides. Butter the pan, line with parchment round across the bottom. Butter the parchment.
4. Preheat oven (preferably not convection…if you have no choice, preheat to 350 instead) to 375 degress. Set a hotel pan of water in the oven to heat.
5. Melt butter in milk and cream.
6. Whisk eggs. Whisk in cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder.
7. Temper mixture with hot milk mixture. Return to saucepan and, stirring constantly over medium heat, cook until mixture thickens but DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat.
8. Stir roughly ¼ of the mixture into the greens, enough to loosen them up so that they can go smoothly into the bottom of the cake pan. Level them with a spoon or spatula.
9. Pour the remaining cornmeal on top of the layer of greens.
10. Place in water bath in oven. Cook until set.
11. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. While still warm, reverse pan onto cake round. Serve immediately, cut into 12 wedges. If not serving immediately, cut the wedges while cool. Then reheat gently in a slow oven until hot enough to serve.