If you’ve never had collard greens, then I think you’re in for a treat. These tough leaves take on a silky, tender texture when simmered low and slow. Plus, you can’t even imagine how delicious your home will smell with a pot of Southern-Style Collard Greens simmering on your stove.
HOW TO PICK COLLARD GREENS
First, I have to say that the easiest way to buy collard greens is the pre-washed bagged greens that are found in your grocery store. Why not use what is easy and convenient.
But, if you find a great deal on unbagged collards, here is how to pick the best bunch:
Choose collard leaves that have a smooth, firm, bright green leaves.
If possible, choose smaller leaves, as they are less bitter and more tender.
Make sure than the collards are kept chilled. Wilted leaves will be more bitter tasting.
HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS
Be sure to wash the leaves very well. They are usually very sandy. I like to fill my sink with cold water and immerse the leaves – allowing the sand to settle at the bottom of the sink. Rub each leaf between your fingers to release any debris. Then rinse under cold running water. I like to lay the leaves on paper towels to drain.
Fold each leaf in half and slice down the center to remove the tough stem and central vein.
Roll the leaves into a spiral and slice crosswise into slices before cooking.
TIPS ON MAKING THIS SLOW COOKED SOUTHERN SIDE
Take the time to braise these tough leaves over low heat to soften their fibers, infuse them with the flavors of the broth, and make them take on a silky, tender texture.
Include the aromatics in the broth. Onion, garlic, broth, wine, all add flavor to the collards and the broth, which is also called Pot Likker.
The vinegar and brown sugar counteracts the bitterness of the greens.
Ham hocks come both smoked and non-smoked. If you like the flavor of smoked meats, then use a smoked ham hock. If not, use a plain ham hock. You can also substitute turkey wings or legs.
For a few more Southern recipes, here are a few of my favorites:
This classic slow-cooked Southern side is a delicious one-pot recipe of savory, silky, and tender collard greens in the most flavorful pot liquor. Serve this with cornbread or hushpuppies and grilled meat for a comforting meal that will feed your soul.
12 bacon slices. Finely minced
1 large sweet onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 ham hock, with meat attached
2 1/2 (32-ounces) chicken broth
2 cups dry white wine
3 (1-pound) packages fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed of the tough stems
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground back pepper
Hot sauce to taste (I used ¼ cup for a very slight ‘back of the throat’ heat)
In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the minced bacon and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until crisp and most of the fat has rendered out – about 12-15 minutes.
Toss in the onion and garlic. Saute until fragrant and the onion is translucent – about 10 minutes.
Nestle the ham hock into the pot.
Pour in the broth and white wine.
Add in the collard greens, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours until the collards are very tender.
Remove the ham hock and pick any meat from the bone. Return the ham to the pot and discard the bone.