Shylock’s Simple Collard Greens

Collard greens are a common side dish at barbecue joints in Eastern North Carolina, and winter is prime collard green season.  Cooking collards is surprisingly easy so stay away from the nasty canned stuff at the grocery store and cook ‘em up yourself. It takes a little more than an hour start to finish, but most of that time is spent waiting while the greens cook–in that time, you should make some cornbread and drink a beer.  Here’s my collards recipe, but please feel free to submit your own in the comments section or just tell me why my recipe is inferior to your’s.

2 pounds collard greens (about 2 bunches)
3 cups of warm/hot water
1 cup of chopped/diced pork of some sort (anything from leftover cooked ham to a pork chop to raw bacon will work)
2 tablespoons basic oil (no EVOO, for god’s sake) unless you are using uncooked bacon or other pork that provides its own fat
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Vinegar for seasoning at table

Thoroughly clean collards and remove stems, then chop into roughly 1″ pieces or smaller. Heat oil in large stock pot and cook the pork for 5 minutes if cooked already or until cooked if raw. Add warm/hot water (cold water and a hot pan gets a bit dicey and takes longer to heat to a simmer) and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pork and set aside. Add collards, salt and optional Worcestershire sauce. Bring to boil, then turn to low and cook for 60 minutes or so (depending how tender you like the greens, you may want to taste at 45 mins).  Add the pork back in a few minutes before you finish cooking. Add water to keep the collards moist during cooking if needed, but it shouldn’t be if you cook at a low temperature.

Be sure to make use of the soupy liquid in the pot, aka “pot likker” or “pot liquor”, either to serve with the greens or dip cornbread in.  Also, add some vinegar to the collards at the table if you are into such things; hot pepper vinegar is best but plain old cider vinegar or Texas Pete will suffice.  Recipe makes ~ 6 servings.

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2 Responses

  1. This recipe from my step-mom is wildly different from the collards I knew as a kid (olive oil? garlic?!?), but trust me: these are delicious.

    6 bunches young collard greens
    3 tbs olive oil
    1 onion julianned
    2 garlic cloves smashed
    2 large ham hocks
    2 bay leaves
    2 quarts low salt chix broth (8 cups)
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1 tbs sugar
    1 teas pepper flakes
    seasoned salt, as needed

    triple wash collards, dry, cut out stems, cut into ribbons (julianned) or chunky squares

    heat olive oil, oinion & garlic on stovetop, stir to coat and cook until onions are softened – don’t let garlic burn!

    add ham hocks, bay leaves – cook 8 minutes

    pack greens in pot

    add broth, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes

    hard boil for 10 minutes

    turn greens once with wooden spoon (never use metal)

    cover, gentle boil for 45 minutes

    taste, add seasoned salt

    cook for 15 more minutes

  2. Okay, here’s the collard recipe that I usually use:

    2 bunches fresh collards
    6 cups water
    1 medium onion diced
    1 red bell pepper diced
    6 slices fat-back
    1 tbsp garlic salt

    Wash collards, remove stems, cut into bite-sized chunks

    Fry fat-back in bottom of large cooker until the grease is rendered out

    Remove and disgard fat-back (I generally eat a bite or three before disposing)

    Add the diced onion and pepper to the grease and saute until tender

    Add the water

    Add the collards

    Add garlic salt

    Boil for about 30 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes (or longer if desired)

    Serve with pepper vinegar to be added at the table

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