Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! If leafy greens were like an 80s movie, kale would be the rich kids named Thad, Chaz and Victoria. Collards would be like working class Lloyd Dobler. I’ll always have a soft spot for them because it reminds me of living in Tennessee, Southern Cooking and Soul Food. Beyond the positive association they’re full of good stuff like vitamin a, c, iron, calcium and fiber.
Collards possess a beautiful deep green color and oversized leaves. Bitter and tough, like some people, they shrink to 1/3 the size, soften, and gain a hearty chewy texture when cooked. Wait that doesn’t sound right. [To clarify: Some people are bitter and tough at first but soften as you get to know them – Editors]
Below is my version of collard greens. It’s true to tradition with a few small modifications:
I use bacon instead of ham hock because it adds a nice sizzle. Corn adds a sweetness to balance against the salt, bacon and stock. A veggie, vegan version is possible by substituting veg broth and skipping the bacon. I’ve never tried liquid smoke but hear it works as a decent substitute for bacon/pork.
1 bunch collard greens (Torn into small pieces. Remove stems)
½ vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
½ cup of chicken stock (bouillion can also be used)
A few ounces of corn
1 T garlic
1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt to Taste
Pepper to taste
Sriracha or chili powder to taste
4 or 5 sticks of bacon (chopped to medium size pieces)
Put chopped onions and a little oil into deep pot. Turn pan on to medium low. After a minute or so, toss in the bacon pieces. Allow these to cook for 5 minutes flipping once (depends if you like crispy or chewy).
Throw in your collard greens, corn, tomato, garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, sriracha/chili powder, chicken stock and enough water to cover about 1/2 of the pot. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then simmer with lid. Continue cooking for 40 minutes or until tender, checking occasionally. Collards leaves will darken, wilt and soften noticeably. This isn’t the healthiest way to cook these greens but it’s nice to indulge ever now and again. Enjoy a soulful/southern Thanksgiving.