Collard Greens

As best as I can recall, I hated collard greens as a kid. My memory was of a bitter unpleasant pile of mush on the corner of the plate which wouldn't go away no matter how much I poked at it. Luckily, my opinions about this southern delicacy have matured along with my palate.

Still, my efforts at cooking this dish tended to produce results more like the unpleasant memory than my more recent experience. The bitterness was a problem in particular. My approach was very much aided by the recipe for collard greens submitted by Diane and Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge in the 2013 D Magazine Cookbook. They added brown sugar which proved a superb counterpoint to the green's pungency.

So I went back to the Cook's Illustrated guide for cooking greens and sort of fused their stripped down slow braise approach with the Fourton's more decadent version. I like it quite a bit.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds collard greens. Washed, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch squares.
  • 2 ounces salt pork. Preferably meaty portion. Cut into small pieces.
  • Bacon grease.
  • 1/2 onion. Chopped.
  • 3 garlic cloves. Pressed.
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar.
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar.

Instructions

Bring 2 quarts of water with a dash of salt to boil in a large pot. Add the collard greens and stir occasionally until they are wilted, about ten minutes. Drain into a large colander but reserve 1/2 cup greens water. Squeeze excess water from the greens and set aside.

Pour a tablespoon of the bacon grease into a large skillet and put on medium heat. Add the salt pork and cook until crisp. Remove cooked salt pork and set aside but leave fat in the pan.

Add onion to the skillet and cook stirring regularly until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the collard greens and fold all of the ingredients together. Add the brown sugar to the green water and stir until dissolved and pour over the greens. Cover and let cook for two to five minutes.

Uncover and cook stirring occasionally until liquid is mostly gone. Add the vinegar and salt pork, mix and serve.