Party planning recently took over both my brain and this blog. I neglected to talk about last week's CSA box, which included... collard greens!
Ronnie's Country Store in Winston-Salem, North Carolina supplied the country ham for this week's recipe. Ronnie's is my mother's favorite stop when she's downtown. Joy swings by and checks out the fresh produce, which is displayed in boxes on the street and inside. She often picks up candy for her grandsons. And she keeps an eye on the country ham scraps. There's rarely a need for a full country ham in our family, but Ronnie's sells trimmings for a reasonable price, and I'm often the beneficiary of her outings. I keep the scraps wrapped in plastic and frozen, pulling them out to flavor — you got it — collards.
I love collard greens cut into ribbons and sauteed with garlic (this takes 3 minutes, tops), but something about slow-cooked greens sits with me in a way that's tough to describe. Redolent of pork and chile pepper, these collards beg for a bottle of hot pepper vinegar and a warm piece of cornbread.
Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure to remove the tough, woody stalks from the collard leaves before proceeding.
The following is my go-to, slow-cooked, collard recipe. Adjust according to taste. Substitute chicken stock for water if you want a more substantive dish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 piece of country ham, about 2 x 2 inches
- 1 pound collard greens
- about 4 cups of water or chicken stock
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add country ham scraps and cook for a few minutes more. Add collards and wilt. Sprinkle with hot red pepper flakes. Add a very small pinch of salt, water or chicken stock, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 1 hour, maybe a little more, until the greens are tender. Taste for seasoning and serve.