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Collards. Length of time needed to cook.

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I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Collards is not a usual vegetable to find in our produce section of local grocery stores. Recently I saw packages of Little Bear brand fresh Collards. Attached to the package there was a recipe. I have seen Collard recipes on this board and it looks to me like they need a long cooking time to make the leaves tender. This recipe on the package is called Curried Collards with Potatoes and the cooking time after you add the collards is very short. They say 5 to 10 minutes. Before I ruin my Collards I thought I would ask other chowhounds if this sounds right.

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  1. As a home grown American Southerner, I have found that cooking collards low and slow is the only way to go. Just cover with wter, add some salt and maybe some seasoning meat (bacon, hog jowl or the like) and a couple of teaspoons of sugar and simmer over low heat for like 2 hours, or until tender. Serve with salt, pepper and a shaker of pepper vinegar or cider vinegar. Deelish!

    2 Replies
    1. re: SweetPhyl

      I don't use sugar and one thing I do with collards if I am buying fresh and I don't know if they have been nipped by some frost is to put them in my freezer for a bit. But yes, low and slow and some smoky seasoning meat is what is called for. Got to have that pepper vinegar too.

      1. re: SweetPhyl

        That's just how my TX mom made 'em. Always served w/ cornbread so you could soak up the pot liquor.

      2. Another southern opinion: cook the seasoning meat , I prefer ham hocks in water with some onions and garlic you have sauteed until soft. Cook until meat is tender- about 2 hours for ham hocks, then add chopped collards and dried pepper flakes. Cook only until collards are tender, which can be 30 minutes up to an hour or 2. As soon as they are tender, they are ready to be eaten with some cornbread and a little pepper sauce.

        1. Long slow cooking with some meat IS the traditional way to go, and arguably the most delicious, but collards can also be cooked much more briefly, as the package indicated. i like them sauteed with garlic, dried pepper flakes and lemon. It will be a very dfferent dish than the traditional method--chewy, fresh and bright green rather than tender, very dark green, and tasting like, say, ham hocks.

          I like both. I'm sure southern traditionalists would scoff and hate the briefly cooked greens. it just depends what you're going for!

          1 Reply
          1. re: celeriac

            Agreed. I tried sauteed collard greens at a Brazilian restaurant and I found them to be excellent. I did the same at home and they were excellent. Takes a good 20-25 minutes.

          2. Another possibility: a meatless variation on the traditional Italian greens-and-garlic theme. This involves a long cooking with olive oil and garlic, then finishing the dish with (all optional; pick and choose if you like) onions, garlic (roasted is best), and cooked kidney beans.

            The details: it's a two-step process. First, after washing the greens, put them in a large, heavy, lidded pot (like a Dutch oven) with about a half an inch (1.25 cm) of water, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and a few whole peeled cloves of garlic. Cover. Simmer for about an hour and fifteen minutes. You want it to simmer, but just barely. What traditional southern (U.S.) cooks call "cooking to a low gravy."

            Then, drain in a collander. Wipe out the pan and put in a bit more olive oil. Heat it and then saute some sliced onions (optional) and minced garlic. OR leave out the garlic and then add a bunch of cloves of roasted garlic when you add the greens--which is the next step. And salt and pepper and a few shakes of the Tabasco bottle. Stir. The last step, which is optional, is adding the beans and cooking until they are hot.

            1. Long and slow is the way too go- saves all those lovely vitamins in the pot liquor.

              Greens can be mighty sandy- so I soak mine in cold water for at least an hour before cooking. Nothin' worse than gritty greens:). Also picking the younger tender greens are best. My favorite collards or other greens are home grown- mom used to grow greens between her roses in Chicago. I used to be able to get freshly grown greens from my aunt in Sacramento before she stopped gardening a couple of years ago. Local, freshly grown greens have a tenderness and taste that cannot be duplicated.

              Alternatives to ham hocks-- turkey necks, smoked turkey wings or turkey "ham". Garlic and red onions make for a flavorful base.

              I need my hot sauce and vinegar at the table to enjoy collards. My other favorite collards taste has a Jamaican twist. I'm not sure what my Jamaican friend ( Teresa-Mama Jamaica in Modesto) does with her greens but they come out tasty and tender, not bitter.

              1. Pressure cooking collards are wonderful,they're tender.Just season them any way you like and pressure cook 30 mins.

                2 Replies
                1. re: WINDELLA

                  I do not have a pressure cooker. Do you think using a slow cooker would be a good idea? I am definetly not going to try the recipe on the collards package which calls for only a 5 to 10 minute cooking at the end of the recipe.

                  1. re: BJE

                    I would try them both ways as a test. Mexico has a number of very hearty greens like Purslane that seem much tougher than Collards... and in a pot of cooked salsa they will cook in about 10 or 15 minutes.

                    In the absense of Mexican greens I have used a blend from Trader Joe's that included Collards with good results (10 minutes in a pot of braised baby back ribs in tomatillo-jalapeno salsa)... they just melted right in & lent a pleasant herby (non bitter) flavor.

                    With all due respect, I wouldn't consider Southern culinary tradition as the definitive on cooking vegetables. In fact people in California kind of make fun of them for overcooking their vegetables to a mush.

                2. I had collards at a restaurant in Chicago that were cooked fast (according to the description on the menu) and they were so bitter they were not edible at all. Gross. Definitely low and slow. (Last I heard that place was going under!)

                  1. It depends on how young the collards are, the dish you're using them in and your own tastes. Tender young greens out of my garden cook in much less time than the leathery old greens I usually see in produce markets. For a soup I would chop them rather fine and stew them like the cooks of old cooked all greens - until they had the consistency of tissue paper ;) - for a heartier dish like a stew or pot roast or as a side dish, I chop them more coarsely and want them more toothsome.

                    I do not like sugared or vinegary greens.

                    I can't imagine any of the collards I've seen in grocery stores cooking adequately in 5 or 10 minutes.

                    I seldom use a slow cooker but if you're comfortable with taking the lid off to taste test for doneness, why not?

                    1. The collard greens are harvested at our farm at the same time as other more tender greens. I sometimes cook the different types all together for an "average" cooking time. The bright green, slightly al dente collards are delicious this way.

                      BJE whatever you end up doing, please report back!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: The Engineer

                        Hello everyone. I am back with my report on cooking collards for the first time. I used some of the package for the long slow cooking method and saved the rest to try with the recipe on the package which was for a very short cook.
                        We were having a lamb curry for dinner tonight and I thought the recipe on the package Curried Collards With Potatoes would go well. For this recipe you need to boil cubes of potatoes until just barely tender and then drain. Saute an onion in butter or ghee and add a minced clove of garlic. Stir in Pataks Hot Curry Paste or make your own garam masala. Add potatoes and chopped collards. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. It was excellent. the collards were not tough , only chewy a bit. It was a very nice accompanyment to the lamb curry.
                        The rest of the package of collards was used for the slow method and I did this in my slow cooker. I followed the many ideas which have been given, by cooking with a smoked pork hock, a chopped onion, garlic clove, a bit of sugar and some red pepper flakes and chopped collards. I let this stew for a few hours and it smelled wonderful and tasted great as well.
                        Now I do have another question. Is this served as the vegetable portion of a meal? What else would you suggest serving along with corn bread?
                        the collards were not tough , only a bit chewy and they complimented the curry flavour.

                      2. It would be a vegetable portion served with ham, pork or chicken, or could be part of a vegetable meal with black-eyed peas, cornbread, and pickled peaches.

                        1. BTW... I love Collards cooked in the Southern way.... and consider any Soul meal incomplete without them. I just don't think they are the best way to cook them... I am glad the recipe worked out for BJE.

                          1. I am also a native southerner and greens lover, and while slow cooked greens are dandy, collards that have been grown in cool temperatures don't need a lot of time. (Collards and most other greens "sweeten" with a light frost and cool temps. I grow them all winter in my garden.) I use a smothered greens recipe that I got from a New Orleans cookbook 30 years ago. In a heavy skillet or pan (I use cast iron), saute chopped onion in the fat of your choice (I use bacon grease, and sometimes olive oil). Add the washed and torn greens, with chopped stems if you want them, with water still clinging, and stir until they start to wilt -- you may need to add a little extra water at this point. Then add dried marjoram and ground black pepper or your favored seasoning, cover, and cook on low. I find 20 minutes is usually all they need to be tender, delicous, and ready to cure what ails you. I've found this works well for collards, wild and Tuscan kale, chard, mustard, and turnip greens. The last two can have a real bite, however, if they're exposed to warm weather and may need the long cook method if they have.