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.