Collards. Length of time needed to cook.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.