Quick Recipes and Easy

How to Cook Collard Greens

The first time in my marriage that I whipped up a mess of collard greens, my new husband was aghast. “What is that stuff?” he said, clearly dismayed at both the appearance and the smell of the collards as they cooked on the stove.

That’s when I learned that collards were yet one more southern food staple that had not yet penetrated Yankeeland, or at least certain parts of it. Once again the respective cultures of this southern gal and her northern-born husband collided in the kitchen.

That was 20-some years ago, and he has come around. Collard greens admittedly are an bought taste, but I’m proud to say that my nearest and dearest is among the most enthusiastic of converts.

People in the South often eat collard greens the way people in the North eat cabbage–that is, quite often, and most frequently as a winter-time dish. Cabbage and collards are closely related, but their flavors are rather different.

One southern tradition that I maintain in my home is that of cooking and eating collards on New Year’s Day, accompanied by black-eyed peas and corn bread. This is supposed to ensure wealth in the new year. (Some people, though, substitute turnip greens for the collards; the thought is the same–the greens represent folding money and the peas represent coins.)

You should only use firm collard leaves, darkish green in color, for cooking. Be forewarned that the leaves are quite tough and require a excellent deal of cooking to render edible.

An fascinating side note to this is that cooked collard greens have greater nutritional value than raw collards. This is because cooking breaks down the tough cell walls that would otherwise prevent the nutritional substances in collards from being released. Significant nutrients in collards include vitamin C, calcium and beta carotene.

You can store collards, unwashed, in a ventilated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They will be excellent there for up to 6 days. The sooner you cook and eat them, though, the less bitter they will taste.

A common way of cooking collard greens is with ham hocks. Here’s a collard greens recipe along that line:

Ingredients

1 huge bunch collard greens

1 onion

1/2 cup cider vinegar

salt

ground black pepper

2 large ham hocks

1/2 cup water

Directions

1. Wash the collard greens thoroughly to remove all grit and traces of dirt. Use a knife to cut the leaves from the stems if the stems are very thick, and discard the stems. Otherwise, just cook the stems with the leaves.

2. Chop onion and sautee with a small amount of cooking oil in a large pot. Add ham hocks and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes.

3. While ham hocks are cooking, mix water, a teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of black pepper together in a bowl or measuring cup. Pour into the pot.

4. Add collard greens a fistful at a time, stirring well each time.

5. After all the collards have been added to the pot, stir until the greens look wilted. Then, turn heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and allow to cook for approximately 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

6. Remove from heat and serve.

Tip: The broth left in the pot from cooking collards is called pot liquor or pot likker in the South, and is highly nutritious. Don’t waste it! Add it to other dishes, or just sop it up with corn bread. Tasty!

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the solid-gold.info/index.html Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah’s article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America: solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html www.solid-gold.info/most-wanted-recipes.html

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