So I know you are asking yourself, what someone who was not born in the true South could possibly know about cooking collard greens. Well, I must admit that I knew next to nothing about the cuisine of the South until I started doing some serious study on the subject. And over the years I have learned a lot. And I must say, if there is anything finer than White Cheddar Cheese Grits (thank you Eden), Shrimp Gumbo or my new recipe for Collard Greens with Smoked Pork Hock, then I do declare, someone step up to the line (the Mason Dixon line of course) and show me the error in my thinking! Until then, I’m tellin’ you true. You can unassailably bet your best corn bread recipe on the fact that I am going to continue researching and publishing recipes that fit the category “all food Southern”. Because all you all, Southern food is the bomb!
So next time you want to fix a big old pot of “good for you” and “really tasty”, get yourself to your local market and buy yourself some collard greens. I am positive you, your family, and your friends are going to thoroughly enjoy this quintessential Southern dish.
- 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 med. onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 c. chicken broth
- 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
- 1 smoked pork hock (I prefer to use Sunny Valley Smoked Pork Hocks obtained in our area at Haggen’s Market)
- 2-3 bunches collard greens (depending on the size of the bunches)
- pinch of sugar, if required
- hot sauce on the side, opt.
In a large covered pot, add the olive oil and the chopped onions; sauté until tender. Add the garlic and continue cooking for a minute or until the garlic releases its aroma. Add the chicken broth, red pepper flakes, pepper, and pork hock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for about 45-60 minutes. (The simmer time helps the broth take on the delicious, smoky flavor of the meat!)
Meanwhile, remove the center stems of the collard greens by holding the leaf in one hand and stripping the leaf down with your other hand. (Tender young leaves don’t need to be stripped.) Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into ½-inch thick slices. Then cut those slices in half. Wash the collard greens thoroughly, drain and set aside.
When the broth has finished simmering for about an hour, add the cleaned and sliced collard greens. Cover the pan and cook on med-low heat until the leaves are tender, about an hour and 45 minutes. Stir once or twice during the cooking process. (You basically want to slowly cook the greens in the flavorful broth. They will wilt down as they cook.) After about an hour and 15 minutes, remove the pork hock from the pan and allow it to cool to the point where you can remove the meat from the bones, fatty and connective tissue without burning your fingers. Chop or shred the meat into bite sized pieces and add back to the pot. When the greens are tender, adjust the seasoning (including a pinch of sugar if the greens are particularly bitter) and serve piping hot.
Note: I like to serve the collard greens in individual little bowls so everyone gets their share of the greens and the amazing liquid. I then pass around chunks of nice crusty bread or the more traditional corn bread to mop up the potlikker. The savory broth (or “potlikker” as we from the south like to call it) is an important part of the whole quintessential “collard” experience.
And OK, for those of you who know me, you know that my “south” is really the southern part of Bellevue, Washington where I lived for most of my adult years. That qualifies as “south”, doesn’t it?
Additional Note: Smoked turkey legs or wings can be used in place of the pork hock, but they are terribly hard to find.
For more Southern recipes, please look under the category “Southern Cuisine” on this site.