These Southern-style collard greens are simmered in a smoked pork broth flavored with onion, red pepper flakes, and other spices, and are guaranteed to bring some comforting home cooking to your dinner table. Greens are more than just a side dish; they are a labor of love, a sacred art form. Beloved by almost everyone with a connection to the South, collard greens are the epitome of comfort and soul food.
Embrace the Stems or Remove Them?
Yes, you can eat the stems of collard greens! However, whether or not you want to remove them is mostly about personal preference. Sometimes the stems can be tough, so it’s best to remove them. Leaving the stem on will add more texture to the finished pot, while removing the stem leads to a silkier batch of greens. To remove the stem, simply hold it with one hand, pinch the base of the leaf where it meets the stem with the other, run your hand down the length of the stem, and voila! Now it’s time to clean them.
Cleaning Collard Greens the Right Way
As with any leafy greens, washing collard greens is essential to remove any dirt or grit. While salad greens are often pre-washed, collard greens usually require some cleaning. Fill a large pot or the kitchen sink with cold water, add the leaves, and move them around a bit to dislodge any dirt, allowing it to sink to the bottom. Lift the greens out of the water, leaving all the bad stuff behind. It’s best to repeat this process until the water left behind is clear.
Preparing Collard Greens with Style
If you prefer a more rustic approach, tear the leaves by hand into bite-sized pieces. Alternatively, stack a few leaves on top of each other, roll them into a log, and cut the collard greens into strips of your desired width, a technique known as “chiffonade” in culinary terms. Now it’s time to cook ’em!
The Perfect Meat to Enhance the Flavor
This recipe calls for cooking collard greens in a flavored broth made from smoked pork neck bones, onions, and spices. Simmering these ingredients in water creates a purer pork flavor, but you can also use chicken stock if you prefer. Alternatively, you can use salt pork, smoked ham hocks, or smoked turkey (necks, wings, or legs) to create the base of the famous “potlikker” or “pot liquor,” the flavorful liquid left behind after cooking the greens. It’s a true delicacy.
Cooking Time: Patience is Key
Achieving the perfect silky texture of Southern-style collard greens requires patience. The cooking time may vary depending on the source of the greens. In my experience, collard greens from the farmers’ market cooked much faster, around 45 minutes, compared to upwards of 2 hours for grocery store greens. It’s important to taste them as they cook to ensure they’re just right!
Serve with Classic Companions
Collard greens are best enjoyed with classic accompaniments such as cornbread, baked macaroni and cheese, and ham. These sides create a harmonious blend of flavors that will satisfy your comfort food cravings.
Now that you’ve learned how to make Southern-style collard greens, it’s time to channel your inner chef and bring a taste of the South to your dinner table. Enjoy this comforting home cooking delight, and remember that the true essence of collard greens lies in the love and soul poured into every bite.
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