When I was younger, I had a strict “no collards” policy. I didn’t really grow up eating greens, and after my mom married my step-dad, I was introduced to collards by my step-dad’s mother, a culinary wizard whose chocolate pie is famous in our house.
Greens, to me, were… well, green. And sort of hard core. And sometimes a bit bitter. And my step-dad was always adding pepper juice to his, which is even more hard core.
No ma’am, no sir, no greens for me.
But then I grew up. And I tried collards at a party where the theme was home-cooked comfort foods. And you know what? Those greens were delicious! (Big surprise, yawn, yawn.)
But this week, for the first time in my recollection, I actually cooked my own collard greens from my bag of CSA goodies. I tweaked Paula Deen’s recipe for Braised Collard Greens from her cookbook, The Southern Cooking Bible. These were delicious, warm, comforting, homey, and reheated beautifully for lunch yesterday.
Braised Collard Greens
Modified from Paula Deen’s recipe
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 Vidalia or red onion, chopped
2 cups water
1 big bunch collard greens
1. Wash the collards and then cut them into ribbons. You can do this by removing the leaves from the stalks, then rolling the leaves like cigars, and then snipping them into 1/2″ pieces. Toss the pieces from time to time to uncurl the ribbons.
2. In a deep pot (I used a stock pot), cook the bacon pieces over medium heat until crispy.
3. Add the butter and onions, and cook until the onions are soft, about five minutes.
4. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
5. Once the mixture boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and add the greens. Simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.
6. When greens are soft, salt and add cayenne pepper to taste.
There are lots of tricks and secrets to collard greens, and here are some of the tricks of the trade that people offered on the Whisks & Words Facebook page:
– Debbie: “Mixing them with kale and turnip greens so they’re not bitter”
– Scott: “Balsamic vinegar. Simple always wins.”
– Jen: “Hot sauce and butter (according to Rob). Oh and don’t be like me and add too much smoked ham hocks.”
– Alisha’s Kitchen: “Bacon!!! salt and pepper . and don’t over-cook them”
– Rachel (of I Heart Beets): “Ham. That is all.”
– Kathryn: “I like a lil onion, ham & a dash of honey. Or brown sugar.”
– Little Miss Vegetarian: “Drizzle them with vinegar!”