Collard greens have long been a favorite of many Southerners. However, because so many collard greens recipes contain ham hocks or other meats that contain a great deal of fat, the nutritional value of this vegetable is often overlooked. Collards are a healthy source of fiber. They contain vitamin C and anti bacterial and anti-cancer agents. There are many ways to cook collard greens.
If you choose to flavor your greens with a smoked ham hock, smoked neck bones or turkey legs (the healthier choice) you will want to put them in a stock pot with cold water over a medium flame. The amount of meat used will depend on the amount of greens that you are cooking. Allow the meat to cook for 2-3 hours or until it is falling off the bone.
While this is cooking you will need to “pick” and wash your greens. Picking means to remove the large stems. Removing too many stems will also remove flavor and nutrients. Once you have removed the stems you will then roll up the leaves and cut them into strips or you may prefer to tear them.
The next step is to wash the greens. This is very important as you want to make sure to remove any dirt or sand. It is recommended to begin by soaking the greens in water with salt and vinegar for about 10 minutes. Pour the water off and repeat the process. If the first water that is poured off does not appear to be too dirty you may not need to “soak” the greens for the second time. However, you will want to continue to wash and rinse the greens as many times as necessary until you are satisfied that the greens are clean. Once you are satisfied rinse them one last time and put them into the pot with the meat.
For additional seasoning you will want to add chopped garlic cloves or garlic powder, crushed red pepper, 1 chopped onion or onion powder, salt, black pepper, one tablespoon of sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar. Once the pot comes to a boil you will cover and allow the greens to simmer on medium stirring occasionally. The greens may take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour on medium heat. You may prefer to simmer them on low for up to two hours. The greens will be done when they are tender to taste.
Another collard greens recipe that has recently gained popularity is “sautéed collard greens.” You will pick and wash and cut the greens as described in the previous recipe. You will then blanch the greens in boiling water for about 30 minutes and drain them. Then place bacon drippings into a skillet. Use approximately two tablespoons of bacon drippings for each bunch of greens. Add one chopped onion sauteing until tender. Add the greens, salt, pepper and sugar, cooking until tender. Once you have tried collard greens you will understand their popularity.