Thursday, March 17

It's Time to Cook a Mess O' Greens, Southern-Style Collards That Is.

raw greens
From left to right: red kale, mustard greens, collards, curly kale.

I have a wonderful relationship with collards. It wasn't always that way.

Having grown up in Rhode Island, I had never even seen collards until I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in my mid-20s. Our first meeting wasn't pretty, but I decided to give them a second chance, and now, they're my constant companion from December through April when they're at their peak.

Today I find myself saying things like, "I'm gonna make a mess o' greens this weekend," and "Honey, gimme some of that cornbread for this here pot likker!" I told you we have a wonderful relationship.

Whether you love greens or are still skeptical, why not skedaddle over to NPR's "Kitchen Window" where you'll find my latest piece, "Eating O' The Greens. Beyond Southern Side Dishes." You'll learn all about Southern greens and get four delicious recipes.

Southern-Style Greens

Southern-Style Greens: Collard Greens with Ham Hock

This traditional method of cooking greens uses ham hock, a cut of meat from the hog's lower leg, which is typically smoked or cured, to flavor the greens. It's available at butcher shops as well as most major supermarkets.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Printable recipe.

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 smoked ham hock, about 3/4 pound
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 pounds collard greens, about 3 large bunches, rinsed and drained, stems removed and cut into 1/2-inch strips
6 to 7 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Hot sauce, to taste

1. In a Dutch oven or other large, deep pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add onions and ham hock, and saute 8 to 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until onions are browned and wilted. Add collards, broth, vinegar, salt and black pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce. Stir well. Cover and bring to a low rolling boil. Partially cover and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the collards are soft and pale green. If you like them really soft, then cook them longer, until desired consistency is reached. Taste them, and season with salt and black pepper, as desired. Ladle some of the liquid over the collards before serving. And keep the hot sauce bottle on the table.

Southern-Style Greens: Collards with Bacon

This is also a Southern-style greens recipe that uses only bacon instead of ham hock. It tastes slightly saltier and less overtly meaty than using ham hock.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 strips bacon, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 small garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Several dashes hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 pounds collard greens, stems removed, sliced into 1-inch wide strips

1. Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until browned around the edges but still pink in the middle. Add the onions and cook until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add broth, vinegar, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and stir well. Bring to a rolling boil. Add collards, stirring well. Reduce to low, stirring occasionally, until collards are tender and pale green. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with juices spooned on top and the hot sauce bottle on the table.


Jocie's Mom said...

I am skeptical of collards...but I'm a big fan of bacon :) Maybe I'll give them a try! Thanks for sharing

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I had a kale epiphany a while back. Life will never be the same.

Tim Vidra said...

I love me some greens and regular enjoy them over at E.A.T. thanks for the reminder I have some Cressy greens I had been meaning to pull out of the freezer which will be done today!

Best, E.A.T.

Grace said...

Like you, I'm a transplant (Damn Yankee) here in the South. I was reluctant to try collard greens. Now they are one of my best and most requested dishes! Try it, you'll like it!

The Runaway Spoon said...

I am Southern through-and-through, but was a little late to the green party. Didn't like them as a kid, but now I know...there is just something about good Southern greens, isn't there?

I make collards similar to yours with ham hock, and add some cornmeal dumplings, and also braise cabbage with smoked turkey necks. When I get my hand on a good naturally-smoked ham hock, I make some simple hock stock and keep it in the freezer so I can whip up some greens or field peas quickly, but still with a ton of flavor.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

parsely sage-the bacon converts even the most skeptical!

tw-A kale epiphany? Ooh, I've gotta hear that one. :)

time-Cressy greens, as in watercress? I never cook those; I usually just have them raw in salads.

grace-It's funny how easily we Yankees can be swayed. ;)

runaway spoon-Ooh, I love the idea of the cornmeal dumplins'. It's smart of you to freeze the stock too. It's time-consuming up front, but then a quick zap! in the microwave, and you're ready to go in no time!

Abby said...

My grandmother made greens all the time, and I grew to love them as I grew up! But my mom still won't eat them. I definitely think they have to be perfectly made, and they're kind of an acquired taste, too. Looks great!

Anonymous said...

defriam skeptical of collards...but I'm a big fan of bacon :)

Peggy said...

Nothing like some bacon to round out some greens! Great stuff! =)

Gwen said...

Greens are so pretty! I love my green leafy veggies, love em to bits. I am dreaming of the day when I can find different varieties like the purple kale you have pictured, or dinosaur kale! How fun would that be. O.k. I'm a bit dramatic about my veggies. ;)

Oh, and we love our Tapatio around here. We are one step away from putting a straw right in the bottle!

Jamie S. Ross said...

Collards are of European ancestry, but only came into their own in the hands of African cooks who knew what to do with them. They were quickly adopted by native Americans as well whose food traditions also favored greens. A favorite with home gardeners, collards are loaded with nutrients, easy to grow and prolific. Ed Davis, a geographer, and Mark Farnham, a plant geneticist recently discovered nearly a hundred new varieties being grown by southern seed savers.

Magic of Spice said...

This is a dish I never cared for as a kid, but it has grown on me.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

I grew up in Texas, but never ate collard greens until I was an adult. (My parents were northerners and thought a lot of Southern foods were gross - so no Dr. Pepper, grits, biscuits and gravy, collards, or chitterlings for me as a kid. Good think I figured these things out later!) I love them and have been buying a weekly stash right now! I enjoy them sauteed, southern-style, and even raw as wraps and in my green smoothies. They're tasty and healthy. Yum.