Collard Greens are an ancient food first cultivated in Greece at least two thousand years ago. It is a mildly bitter, leafy plant widely recognized as an accompaniment to meals served in Africa, Brazil and the Southern US. Collard greens have endured the test of time in many nations because they’re delicious. Your Recipe Hub is well versed in the down-home, howdy ya’all version of collard greens and prepared some for you today.
People in southern states and soul food aficionados will read this recipe for two reasons. First, they can’t imagine I would have the nerve to make meemaw’s signature dish and will be eager to fix my wagon and hush my mouth. Second, they love collards and enjoy reading about them (between meals served with collards). I can never hold a candle to your grandmother, clearly, but it’s OK if I do this because my parents are southern. Plus, your Wonkette comrade, elviouslyqueer, has been lighting up Twitter with stories about collard greens. You made me hungry, sir. I regret nothing.
Collards are typically prepared with meats like ham hocks, smoked turkey necks, and/or bacon. Enterprising vegans can re-imagine the ingredient list with tamari, smoke flavoring, and vegetable broth (serve with pinto beans!). It is virtually impossible to screw up collards. Slow cooking will give everyone enough time to correct flavors. I used Porto in my recipe, and elviouslyqueer uses bourbon (or all of the above). No one is wrong. The only thing that matters is what you like.
The following recipe is a small batch appropriate for a few people. If you have guests coming over, double or triple the recipe as needed.
collard greens, 1 bunch (soaked, rinsed several times and stems removed) – or –
1 bag of pre-cut collard greens (about 16 oz.)
3 ham hocks
bacon, 3-5 slices, crumbled (optional)
butter, for cooking
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 c. chicken broth
1 tbs. brown sugar, more to taste
2-4 tsp. cider vinegar
splotches of Louisiana-style hot sauce
salt and pepper
Porto or bourbon, some glugs
Put the ham hocks in the crock and let them hang out for a few minutes while working on your greens.
Fresh bunches of collards can be sandy, and you will need to soak and rinse them several times after removing the stems. Pre-packaged collard greens may have some stems, but only need to be thoroughly rinsed.
In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp and set aside. Reserve the grease, add some butter, and sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Mix in seasonings, hot sauce, vinegar, sugar and booze. Begin adding handfuls of collard greens to the pan, givinging them time to wilt between handfuls. When the collards turn bright green, remove from heat and pour the contents of the skillet (plus crumbled bacon) into the crock. Low heat for eight or more hours, or high heat for at least five hours.
Remove the ham hocks, pull off the layer of fat, and pick the meat from the bone. You won’t find much but the flavor is worth every morsel. Add the meat back to the pot; adjust the seasonings and heat well before serving. While you’re at it, why not sprinkle more crisp bacon on top? Wanda Mae, there is no such thing as too much bacon. Bump up the vinegar when you have some BBQ on the plate. Tang and smoke together, because YASS.
When making collards, you will have a resultant liquid called potlikker (or pot liquor). Potlikker is a value-added feature. This savory, dark brew is even better the next day. Potlikker sopped up with cornbread is the best way to go. Enjoy, and have a great Thanksgiving!