Collard greens have a long history in the African-American community. They were always on our dinner table on holidays when I was a kid, and even now that my siblings and I have children and grandchildren of our own, we still look forward to them every Thanksgiving. My recipe is slightly different from my mother’s but the basic elements are still there. And I don’t wait for holidays anymore; I make collard greens whenever I crave them, which is fairly often.
1 large bunch (about 2 pounds) collard greens
4 slices bacon
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 small finely diced onion
1/4 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons garlic powder
large (5-quart) pot, with lid
1. Place collard greens in colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water to remove grit. Drain well.
2. Slice off woody stems from collards. Fold leaves in half lengthwise, then chop the greens into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
3. Fry bacon in pot over medium heat until very crisp. Remove bacon and dice into very small bits. Cook diced onion in bacon grease until soft, about five minutes.
4. Return bacon to pot, then add chopped greens, chicken stock, garlic and red pepper flakes.
5. Cover and simmer 1 hour to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender. Season with salt and more red pepper flakes to taste.
NOTES & TIPS
• Large pieces of smoked ham or smoked turkey can substitute for the chopped bacon. Toss the cooked meat in with the greens, then pull meat from the bones and add them to the greens before serving.
• A few dashes of hot sauce can substitute for red pepper flakes. Either way, start with a little, taste the greens, then add more if necessary.