Collard greens have always been a staple of the south, but they seem to be slowly gaining popularity in the northern states. They're one of the most productive vegetables you can grow in a backyard garden because you can continually harvest them for months on end. Just "crop" or harvest the bottom leaves and the plant will continue to grow and produce until it gets too hot for them in the summer months.
While this post is specifically for collards, this recipe can be used on mustard greens, turnip greens, rutabaga greens, etc. It seems like every southern kitchen prepares collards slightly differently, but our southern collard greens recipe is a simple, home run recipe that requires just a few ingredients. As we always say on our videos, it's hard to make just a small pot of collards. So go ahead and make a big ole pot so you can share with all your friends and family! You can even freeze them once they're cooked if you have too many leftovers.
- 3-4 Large Bunches of Collard Greens
- 1-2 lbs Smoked Ham Hocks Cut Into 1" Cubes
- 2 Quarts Chicken Stock
- Hot Pepper Vinegar
1) Rinse the collard leaves well with water. This can be done in the sink or outside in a large pail or bucket. Make sure they're clean without any dirt or insect eggs on the leaves.
2) Cut the collard leaves into small ribbons. We like to leave the stalks in the center of the leaves because they add some nice texture, but you can remove the stalks if you don't care for them.
3) Take a large cast iron pot and get it hot on medium-high heat.
4) Add a drizzle of oil in the bottom of the pot and then add the smoked ham hocks. You can also use smoked neckbones, hog jowls, smoked turkey legs, or whatever your protein of choice may be. This is what adds all the good flavor to the liquid in which the collards are cooked, so choose wisely.
5) Cook the smoked ham hock in the bottom of the pot until the pieces are slightly browned and some of the fat is rendered in the bottom of the pot.
6) Add a small amount of chicken stock to the pot, just enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot, releasing some of the bits of meat and fat that may be stuck on the bottom of the pot.
7) Add a few more ounces of chicken stock so that the greens don't burn during the wilting process. Add a few handfuls of the cut collard greens, put a lid on the pot, and allow them to wilt from the steam.
8) Once the first addition of collards is wilted, add another few handfuls and allow them to wilt. Keep adding small batches of collards until they are all wilted.
9) Once all your greens are wilted, add enough chicken stock to barely cover the top of the greens.
10) Place the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow them to simmer for 45 minutes.
11) Once all the collards are dark green and tender, they're ready to eat. Dip some into a bowl, add hot pepper vinegar to taste, and enjoy your southern collard greens!