Vendor Profile: Mr. I Got ‘Em

Collard Greens and Smoked Turkey–Go Get ‘Em!

You’ve seen him. Mr. I Got ‘Em, elegant in tails and top hat, striding to and fro between produce-laden tables and barbecue grills lined with sizzling sausage and turkey legs.  Even after piling pulled pork onto buns and dishing up collard greens all morning, there’s never a speck on his starched white shirt.

Mr. I Got ‘Em’s real name is Brady Johnson, and his business includes catering and selling at several local markets during the week. Why the formal attire?  It’s a tribute to Elijah Moore, a distant cousin who sold vegetables in St. Petersburg and environs before World War II. The tails and top hat, together with a memorable cry—"You want ’em? I got ’em!—helped generate business.  "About 15 years ago, I decided to bring it back," says Johnson.

Above all, customers come for the collard greens, simmered with smoked turkey legs and fresh jalapeños. "They’re the best I’ve ever tasted," says Marisa Dalla Valle, who helps out at the stand.  A globe-roaming graphic artist who’s lived in Hong Kong and Mississippi, Dalla Valle painted the more-than-life-size portrait of Elijah Moore that’s usually on display.

Smoked mullet from the week’s catch is a draw and so are displays of fresh vegetables that, on a recent Saturday, included yellow summer squash, tomatoes (green as well as red), Chinese cabbage and honey tangerines–plus big bags of ready-to-cook collard greens to take home.

Mr. I Got ‘Em’s Collard Greens

Makes 12 or more servings

  • 1 large smoked turkey leg or several smoked turkey wings
  • 2 or 3 turkey tails (optional)
  • Salt Rolex Replica
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • Mr. I Got ‘Em bag of washed, torn collard greens (about 2 pounds)

Place the turkey leg and tails (if using) in a large saucepan and barely cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, partly covered, for 20 minutes. Add the jalapeño peppers to the water and pile the greens on top. Simmer, partly covered, until the greens cook down and are tender, about 40 minutes; stir occasionally. Taste the broth and add more salt if needed.

Remove the turkey leg and, once it has cooled a little, cut the meat off; cut in small cubes and return to the greens. Discard the turkey bone, sinews and turkey tails (if using).

The greens can be eaten immediately, but they will taste better the next day; freeze them if you like. To serve: Dish up the collards with a slotted spoon, adding a little of the rich-tasting cooking liquid to each serving.

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Toni Lydecker is a food journalist whose most recent cookbook is Piatto Unico: When One Course Makes a Real Italian Meal (fall 2011). She writes an Italian food blog called Tavola Talk (www.tavolatalk.com).

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