A Truss of Greens

illustration from Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

In his 1857 novel Little Dorrit Charles Dickens describes the foodstuffs purveyed by a small restaurant as seen through its dirty windows:

They walked on with him until they came to a dirty shop-window in a dirty street, which was made almost opaque by the steam of hot meats, vegetables, and puddings. But glimpses were to be caught of a roast leg of pork, bursting into tears of sage and onion in a metal reservoir full of gravy, of an unctuous piece of roast beef and blisterous Yorkshire pudding bubbling hot in a similar receptacle, of a stuffed fillet of veal in rapid cut, of a ham in a perspiration with the pace it was going at, of a shallow tank of baked potatoes glued together by their own richness, of a truss or two of boiled greens, and other substantial delicacies.

Though such delights as glimpsed through a dirty shop-window might not tempt more delicate appetites, a “truss or two of boiled greens” can be a nice addition to dinner. The 1865 cookbook Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cookery as It Should Be presents a tasty recipe for boiled greens. Its author writes, “Vegetables are a most useful accessory to our daily food, and should be made the object of greater study in their preparation than they usually receive.” Here’s to this useful accessory finally getting its due.

Boiled Greens

Much depends upon boiling greens, and the manner in which it is done. The water should be soft, and a handful of salt thrown into the water, which should boil before the greens are put in; when, in, the water should then be made to what by cooks is termed “gallop,” the saucepan kept uncovered, and when the greens sink, they are done, take them out quickly and dress for table.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

Would you rather receive The Austerity Kitchen by email? Then sign up for my Substack.

And, if you’d like to help the Kitchen keep cookin’, please consider picking up a copy of my book, which you may find on one of the sites listed here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s