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Hometown Foodie – Are You A Collard Person?
#foodie-all – by Ellen Britt.
There are two kinds of people. Those who love collards and those who don’t.
And even for those folks who haven’t come to their senses about collards and don’t like them, it’s not their fault, because likely they have never had them properly prepared.
Growing up in the South, most people fixed collards with a piece of pork fat or smoked ham hock thrown into the water which imbued the pot “likker” as we called it, with a smoky, savory taste.
Not that I’m plant based, I don’t use the pork but have devised a different technique that brings out the natural, earthy, mineral rich flavor of these nutrient rich greens.
Here’s how I prepare them:
Collards need to be washed VERY thoroughly in several changes of water, otherwise you might get a nasty surprise in terms of a mouthful of grit. Some folks like to leave the thick stems intact and just cook everything longer to tenderize them.
Personally, I remove the stems before cooking. Be aware that with collards, they really cook way down, so if you have more than two people to feed, you might want to pick up two or even three good size bunches.
I did see a recipe the other day for pickled collard green stems, so maybe I’ll try that with my leftover collard green stems soon!
After you have your greens washed and the leafy parts stripped from the stems, heat two tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil in a stockpot. Briefly saute four chopped garlic cloves in addition to a half teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes over medium high heat.
Once the garlic and pepper flakes are fragrant, dump the washed collards into the stockpot and using kitchen tongs, toss them in the hot oil till the entire mass of greens is wilted down. Once that’s done, pour enough filtered water over the greens to just cover, bring to a boil, then cut the heat to a good simmer and place a lid on the pot a little bit ajar to let steam escape.
Let the greens cook for at least an hour, maybe more, depending on the volume of greens, until they are very tender, dark green and glossy. The broth (the pot liquor) should be fragrant and silky. I like to add salt to taste toward the end of the cooking time, as adding it too early tends to toughen the greens.
Once the greens are done, serve with roasted sweet potato and cornbread hot from the oven or with beans and rice. Be sure to scoop up some of the pot liquor with each serving and that’s the best part of eating collards. Let’s eat y’all…!