I’ve had a few requests via comments on my blog, Julie’s and through e-mail for my recipe for collard greens, so I thought I’d indulge y’all. First I have to say, Southerners love them some greens. Whether they are turnip, spinach, mustard or collard....no down home cooking is complete without greens, cornbread and some kind of meat dish.
Collard greens have actually been around for thousands of years and are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. The ancient Greeks ate them, as did the Romans. They gained their most recent (300 hundred years ago) popularity thanks to the African slaves who were brought/forced to the New World. When the greens are cooked down properly they produce, around the cooked leaves, a liquid. The slaves on the plantations would drink this liquid, along with eating the greens, and they called it “pot likker”.
Collard Greens Raw
Collard Greens Cooked with pot likker
The way I cook my collard greens has been handed down in my family since before the War of Northern Aggression. According to family lore this recipe was dictated by the recently emancipated black cook (her name has been lost to time) to my Great-Great Grandmother in the kitchen of their home on Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, just before the Yankees invaded.
- In a big pot place ham hocks, or salted pork, and a whole onion (peal off the outer layer).
- Pour in enough water to cover the meat.
- Bring to a boil then simmer for one hour. The onion should be falling apart after an hour.
- While the meat and onion are simmering, slice the stalks out of the greens, then chop them up and wash them in the sink. Keep rinsing, and draining the leaves to ensure all dirt or bugs or whatever is gone. It actually should take 5 to 6 washings to get them right. You’ll notice that the water will turn green with each washing. Keep at it till the water is clear. I like to let them soak for a while between the last couple of washing cycles.
- Once the hour is up, start adding the clean greens to the pot, layering them on top of the meat and onion. Once they’re all in they should cook for about an hour, or until they are tender. Stir them up a little while they're cooking. You may want to add salt and pepper to the pot to add additional flavor, if needed. When done they should be very tender.
- Serve them up with cornbread and add a dash of hot sauce/tabasco or vinegar if you like. The ham pieces add a perfect garnish.
Well there you go...My collard green recipe. I’ve shared something very special with you folks, I hope you’ll appreciate it. If you choose to make some for yourself let me know about it. Even better, take a picture of the finished product and e-mail it to me.