Saturday, September 20, 2014

Southern Style Collard Greens

Being born in the North and raised in the South has me torn to identify with a specific regional tradition. While I do love some of the German and Eastern European food traditions of Wisconsin (and of course the cheese) I really identify more with the traditional dishes of the South. I try to make a solid plate of Southern cooking once every few months at least.

Whatever combination of protein and sides I choose, without fail, I make greens.

I love greens. I love potlikker. I could drink a cup of the stuff. I've made pot pies and noodles from it but the best are the greens themselves. Smoky, salty and slightly bitter. They compliment and bring together any plate of Southern fare.

They are an absolute requirement for me.

Most of my Southern style recipes have been borrowed from It's a great site filled with info and outstanding recipes. Sometimes I just browse and salivate.

Southern Style Collard Greens
(from here)

For the Ham Stock:
2 smoked ham hocks
Water to cover plus an inch
1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, smashed

For the Greens:
2 large bunches of collard greens, cleaned rinsed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 quarts of Ham Stock (ingredients above)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
Couple dashes of hot sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or lard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon of butter


I do this recipe in parts. You can just basically toss everything into the pot at one time but I like to use the "ham hock stock" for other things, namely black-eyed peas.

For this particular application, I'm making the stock separate from the greens then combining them at the end.

So, for the stock, get your ham hocks into a pot. Frozen is fine. I used a pressure cooker. Please, ask for a pressure cooker for your next birthday, it's incredibly useful.

Cover by at least an inch or fill all the way to the line, generally 4-6 quarts.

Assemble an onion and 5 cloves of garlic.
(I'm not sure why I took a picture of just half an onion, you should use a whole one.)

Roughly chop the onion and smash the garlic.

Toss in the pot along with 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning.

Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes or at a simmer for about 4-5 hours or until the meat on the ham hocks are falling of the bone.

Strain the solids and reserve your stock. You should have about 4 quarts.

If you're making both the collard greens and the black-eyed peas, add enough water to give you 6 quarts.

It's ok. It's plenty rich.


While the stock cooks you can prep the greens.

They can be dirty at times so inspect and clean thoroughly. Usually it's jut regular dirt.

Remove the stem. You can cut it out like this or fold it over and strip it with your fingers, whatever works for you.

Stack the leaves.

Roll them tightly.

Slice at 1 or 1/2 inch increments. I prefer about 1/2 inch.

Put in a bowl for now.


Now we make the potlikker.

Dice an onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic.

In your freshly cleaned pot, add 3 quarts of the Ham Stock, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning, a couple dashes of hot sauce and your diced onion and minced garlic.

Place over high heat for a boil.

For illustrative purposes, I put the seasoning mixture into a small bowl. You can just add this directly after you reach a boil.

2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon bacon drippings or lard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon of butter

Once you reach a boil...

Add your seasoning mixture.

Drop the heat to medium/low and stir well.

Add the greens slowly.

Press down to submerge and cook from 45 minutes to 2 hours.

45 and they'll be done but have a lot of body. 2 hours and they are very mushy.

Cook to your taste. I actually go towards the 2 hour mark.

After the greens are done to your liking, kill the heat.

Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and serve alongside some home-smoked pulled pork, mac-n-cheese and black-eyed peas perhaps?

This recipe is outstanding in my opinion. The potlikker is sublime and the greens are chock full of flavor. This is a must-serve side for any Southern plate. 


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