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Braised Mustard Greens with Pancetta and Lemon

Salty, pepper-flecked Italian pancetta both contrasts with and complements the peppery bite of mustard greens in this simple recipe. Braising the greens in chicken broth adds richness and dimension to the dish and further softens any harshness in the greens. A spritz of lemon juice freshens and harmonizes the flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 bunches mustard greens, about 3 lb. total, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions:

In a fry pan over medium-high heat, sauté the pancetta until it is lightly browned and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Pour out all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the butter. When it has melted, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mustard greens and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens begin to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender but still bright green and the liquid reduces to a glaze, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the greens to a warmed serving dish. If there is cooking liquid left in the pan, simmer until it is syrupy and reduces to about 1 Tbs. Pour the liquid over the greens and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then squeeze the juice from the lemon half over the greens. Top with the crisp pancetta and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Vegetables, by Jodi Liano (Oxmoor House, 2008).