What are collard greens?
Collard greens are a member of the cabbage family. This is easy to tell from the similar smell while cooking.
Since they do not form a compact head like cabbage, they are called greens. The same goes for kale, spinach, turnip, and mustard greens.
Collard greens have large, sturdy green leaves and hearty, thick stems. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
How To Cook Collard Greens: Southern, Soul Food Style
Now that you’ve learned all about this fabulous, nutrient-rich plant! Let’s make a pot of the best collard greens ever. This collard greens recipe is super simple, and they just might become your favorite greens as well!
Meet The Cast: Collard Green Recipe Ingredients:
Fresh Collard Greens– Purchase from the Farmers Market or Organic if possible. Make sure that the leaves look healthy, green, and full.
Onion– Yellow onions will add flavor to the greens.
Garlic– Garlic will compliment the flavor of the onion and greens.
Red Pepper Flakes– Red Pepper flakes will add some slight heat to the greens.
Fully-Cooked Smoked Turkey Leg- This is the best alternative for those who prefer not to use pork. The smoked turkey leg will add flavor and smokiness to the greens. If you prefer pork, use ham hocks or thick-cut cooked bacon.
Chicken Broth- Chicken broth creates a richer, more flavorful broth. Water can be used in place of broth or a mixture of chicken broth & water.
Seasoning( Black pepper, Smoked Applewood salt, and Distilled white vinegar)– These seasonings will enhance the flavors of the finished greens. Resulting in a bold, flavorful pot of savory collard greens that are smoky, slightly spicy, and a tad salty and vinegary! Perfection!
Step 1: Remove Stems:
How to remove the stems from collard greens
Now that you have a bunch of fresh collard greens, we want to remove the stem. The stems can be pretty bitter, so this is why most people prefer to remove and discard them. However, they are also loaded with nutrients. If you’d like to eat the stems, I suggest cooking them separately since they will take much longer to cook and become tender. Below are two common methods to remove the leaf from the stem.
Method 1. Fold the leaf in half length-wise and cut out the stem with a knife or tear it away from the stem using your hands. *I prefer to tear them off the stem.
Method 2. Hold the stem at the bottom with one hand and slide your other hand firmly up the stem, removing the leaf. (This seems to work best for small tender leaves.)
Step 2: Wash
How to wash collard greens
The very first time I made fresh collard greens, I gave them a quick rinse and threw them right into the pot. BIG. MISTAKE. I was met with a mouth full of grittiness! Yikes!
Fresh collard greens are known to be full of dirt, grit, and sometimes bugs. Proper washing is always required. I like to do the soak-and-scrub method. It ensures that the collard greens are thoroughly clean.
While you can clean your greens with plain water, I find that creating a quick and easy cleaning solution makes this process much quicker! Here’s how to properly wash collard greens.
Fill your sink with water, and then add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar and 3 tablespoons salt. (this will not affect the flavor of the greens)
Swish this around, and then submerged your greens in the water. Agitate the greens while scrubbing and swishing them around in the water to loosen up any dirt.
Let the greens soak for 20-30 minutes, giving them a good scrub midway. The vinegar and salt will help loosen & remove any dirt, grit and bring out any bugs hiding in the greens.
Drain the water and soak again in plain water (1-2 times) if the water is dirty and gritty. Finally, to be sure your greens are squeaky clean, drain the water and wash and gently scrub each leaf front and back by hand. You’ll thank yourself for making sure the greens were thoroughly cleaned when you taste the results!
Step 3: Cut
How to cut collard greens
Now that we have squeaky-clean collard greens, it’s time to cut them up into bite-size pieces. To do this, you can:
A. Stack several leaves on top of each other and roll them up lengthwise. Using a knife, cut the rolls into strips. Or…
B. Simply tear the greens into bite-size pieces with your hands.
I prefer method B! I grab several leaves and just rip them up into small pieces. This way is actually quicker for me, and I like the imperfect pieces that it creates. Besides, anytime I can touch my food while preparing it, it just seems to taste better!
Step 4: Cook
How to Cook THE BEST Collard Greens, Southern-Style
Now comes the fun part! Time to prepare our collard greens!
This collard greens recipe creates the BEST pot of Southern Collard greens! The result is tender, savory greens full of soul, and my family just loves them!
I hope you and your family will too! Let’s get started!
In a large pot, heat olive oil. Once hot, add in onions and cook until tender. Next, add in garlic and red pepper flakes. Onions and garlic add so much flavor and savoriness to collard greens, and the red pepper flakes add a wonderfully spicy kick.
Pour in the chicken broth and add the fully-cooked smoked turkey leg to the pot. Collard greens can be made with water, but chicken broth adds so much richness and flavor along with the smoked turkey. It’s a winning combination that makes the collard green downright addictive!
Bring to a boil, and then add the greens to the pot. The greens will begin to cook down quickly.
Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until desired texture is reached. Stirring it several times while cooking. I prefer my collard greens super tender but not mushy. It’s really hard to overcook collard greens, though. Check on them after the 45-minute mark, giving them a taste test to check for firmness. I cook my collard greens with the lid on, which helps them cook a bit quicker.
Add seasonings. When the greens are done, give the broth and the greens a taste. Add seasonings to enhance the flavor if needed. I always add in a little bit of Applewood smoked salt, cracked black pepper, and distilled white vinegar. Chop up the smoked turkey leg and add it back to the pot if desired.
And that’s it!! You have just created one amazing pot of Southern soul food collard greens!! Don’t forget to make a batch of cornbread on the side!
recipe by Divas Can Cook https://divascancook.com/collard-greens-recipe/