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Gina’s Collard Greens

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Gina: I’m always surprised to discover that folks in these parts tend to cook turnip and mustard greens more often than collard greens. I think the perception is that collards tend to be a little bitter. But I gotta tell you, you’re sleeping on this one! Rich in vitamins and nutrients, collard greens are actually the sweetest, best-tasting leaves you can buy (turnip and mustard greens, on the other hand, have a slightly spicy, peppery taste). In this recipe, the deep, full flavor of the collard greens along with a bit of sugar and some heat from the red-pepper flakes create an irresistible sweet-and-hot pot of goodness, while the ham hocks add a note of smoke that balances out the other flavors. Pat can’t get enough of these sweet greens. Trust me on this one, ladies--this is the recipe that’ll bring your man home every night! Five bunches of collards might seem like a lot of greens, but these jokers will cook down to a fraction of their original size.

Serves6 to 8

Cooking Methodbraising

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 2 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish, vegetable

Dietary Considerationegg-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturehot & spicy, savory, smoky

Type of Dishvegetable

Ingredients

  • 5 bunches collard greens (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 ham hocks
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons crushed red-pepper flakes

Instructions

Using your hands, pull the leaves from the thick collard greens stems, and discard the stems. Roll the leaves lengthwise into a cigar shape, and cut crosswise into large pieces. Fill a clean sink or a large pot with plenty of cold water, and rinse the greens in the water, allowing any dirt or grit to sink to the bottom (repeat several times with fresh water, if necessary). Lift the greens out of the water, and set aside in a colander to drain.

Heat the ham hocks, salt, and 3 cups water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the ham hocks are slightly tender, about 30 minutes. Add the greens, sugar, and red-pepper flakes to the pot, stirring to combine. Cover the pot, and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, about 45 minutes. If the pot gets too dry, add more water as necessary to keep the greens moist (you’ll want to serve the greens with a generous amount of the flavorful cooking liquid).

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