Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Braised Collard Greens

Though I've never been there, I love southern food. No other cuisine of which I am aware has quite the same love for and dependence on that walking smorgasbord, the pig. Pulled pork, barbecue ribs, and country ham are defining dishes of the southern kitchen. Heck, practically everything has a porcine component. Biscuits? Try that with some country sausage gravy. Beans? What are black-eyed peas without a ham hock?

Cooked greens? You bet your accent. Last night we made a pot of collards for dinner. I've only made this dish twice now, but I find it so easy and delicious that they are quickly becoming a staple in our crisper.

Traditionally, one makes collards with a ham hock. I didn't have one. All I had was a whole ham bone with lots of delicious meat stuck to it which was leftover from a gathering on Sunday. Well, I grudgingly made the substitution. It resulted not only in a beautiful, kitchen-filling aroma, and delicious savory greens, but also in a velvety and luxuriant mouth feel (created by the the natural gelatin obtained by cooking connective tissue for an hour over low heat).

Since I didn't feel like cooking anything else, I threw a few home made Thüringer Bratwursts from the freezer in during the simmering. I know it's not at all authentic, but it sure was tasty.

Collard Greens

One bunch collard greens (~1 lb)
3 strips bacon
one onion, chopped
two cloves garlic, minced
two small red chilies, crushed; or ~1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
ham bone, if available
water or stock to cover
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

In stock pot, render and brown some bacon, and saute the onion, garlic, and chili (last week I used three, which was too hot; this week only one, which wasn't enough) in the fat (leave the bacon in the pot).

While sauteing, wash the collards and tear the leaves from the thick stems (throw out any sections that look unappetizing). Roll the leaves together lengthwise like a big green cigar and chop. Once the onion is clear and the garlic is beginning to brown, throw the greens and the ham bone into the pot and add enough water to cover everything. Add pepper to taste.

Once it is boiling, turn it down to simmer. After about 45 min. check the seasoning. Add salt and sugar if needed. Simmer another 15 min.

Pour the greens into a colander, reserving the liquid (pot likker [liquor]) for dipping or use in another dish. Put the greens in a serving dish and toss with the vinegar. Serve and get nostalgic.

Given last night's shortage on the main attraction, I'd say that two bunches of greens are about right for three people (or maybe only two real greens fans).


chanel said...

A warning to all breastfeeding mothers: The collard greens made my daughter fussy for two days. They were really good, but I don't think they were worth the crying.

Quantas Ginn said...

I believe mothers will find the same effect with cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables. They give the baby gas.

- Q