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umm, what do I do with collards?

So my first week of my CSA has made it very clear that my mama didn't like greens! I don't think I ate spinach before I left home, and there certainly weren't slow-cooked collards. I managed to figure out the swiss chard, and I've made bok choy once before, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't even know what the collard greens were when I pulled them out of the bag.

So, what do I do with them?

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  1. Strip out the big woody stem. Stack the stem-free leaves and roll them like you're making a gigantic basil chiffonade. Slice one-inch thick and wash the cut greens thoroughly.

    Melt about a tablespoon of bacon fat over low heat in a large saucepan. Stir the washed (and preferably dried) greens into the bacon fat a handful at a time, wilting each handful before adding the next. Add one cup chicken stock, salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer over low heat until tender, at least 30 minutes. Add a little water if it threatens to run dry. Serve alongside grilled or smoked meat of your choice, or a pot of beans. Cornbread is always welcome.

    1. Cut out the stem; blanch them in boiling water with some bacon or duck fat in it to coat, then shock them in ice water. Stack them flat on top of each other, 6-8 thick and grill.... makes a nice side.. the outer ones get all crispy, the inner ones steamed tender..

      1 Reply
      1. re: grant.cook

        I never thought of grilling collards before (and I grill alot of stuff). It sounds great...I'll be trying it next time I fire up the grill!

        I just made a callaloo soup with collards and salt beef - beautiful green color and tasty. I can post my recipe if interested.

      2. Find a recipe for gumbo z'herbes - green gumbo. You can use a LOT of greens in that..

        1. 1. fill the sink with water and put the greens in and swish around a lot.
          2. drain and shake dry.
          3. remove the center rib. (easiest way is to pull the leafy part from the bottom and repeat on the other side.It's okay to have the skinny end of the rib still attached)
          4. chop an onion and saute in bacon grease.
          5. transfer the onion to a stockpot and add the greens. and a whole cayenne or serrano pepper
          6. add 1 or 2 smoked ham hocks or neck bones.
          7. cover and cook, over low heat stirring occasionally and add a little water if needed to keep the greens wet.(this probably won't be necessary, but you can if it needs it)
          8. cook for about 2-2 1/2 hours and serve with skillet cornbread.
          this is even better if you mix with turnip greeens and mustard greens, cleaned and trimmed the same way.

          1. The next day for lunch, squeeze the pot likker from a good sized handful of greens. (save the likker!)
            Slather two pieces of good quality bread with mayo, top with the greens, season to taste and enjoy!
            The leftovers also make a killer frittata. Mix with eggs and bit of sharp pecorino cheese and cook very slowly til set. Eat at slightly warm room temperature.

            1. Rinse well, cut out the thick middle vein, stack, roll and thinly slice them. Steam them, cook some potatoes. Mix peanut butter with salsa and serve it over the collards and potatoes. Greens served with peanut butter/salsa mixture is called masamba, based on a dish from Malawi, Africa and also eaten in Kenya and/or Uganda. Masamba means greens and/or farm in the local language(s).

              We also use kale for this recipe. Greens are also good with pasta or rice. We sometimes put balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, or tamari on greens.

              1. Cut and clean as many have described before me. Take smoked pork neckbones, hocks, or smoked meat of choice, ie 2-3 hocks, 2 lbs of neckbones..........cover by 1 inch with water..........added chopped large onion and about 5 cloves of chopped garlic... bring to boil with lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add chopped collards, pushing down so that they all fit, add 2 cups white wine, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 10-15 good shots of Frank's Hot Sauce, or whatever hot sauce you like, or omit if you don't like spicy. Add a teaspoon of salt, cover, and let simmer for about an hour and a half.
                These are the best collards that you will ever eat. Thanks to Justin Wilson!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: JNUNZMAN

                  I second using ham hocks. The flavor that they add is unmatched. Though I just boil the ham hocks in water for 2 hours or so with whole dried chillies and salt, adding more water as it boils down, and then add the collards to the stock. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes. Really good and easy... after you get past looking at the ham hock!

                2. There's a recipe on Epicurious for Collards with Bacon and Red Onion that is really good.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: redthong

                    I second that redthong. The Epicurious recipe is really quite good.

                    1. re: kkak97

                      I "third" that...the epi recipe is outstanding (though I always cut back on the amount of bacon, just a personal preference--but you do need that bacon flavor)

                  2. Sorry for tagging this onto the OP's post, but I've always wanted to ask this, since I'm not familiar with collard greens. Most cooking instructions posted here (and in cookbooks) call for cooking the greens for a long time. Are they tough? Do they get a dead cabbage smell if they're cooked that long?

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: stilton

                        If you cut them in thin strips and steam them they only take a few minutes. Yes, they are tougher than kale and other greens. I don't like cabbage but do like collards.

                        1. re: stilton

                          Young, tender collards can be "smothered" for only 30 minutes and come out just fine. Similar tto some of the other treatments described, heat a tablespoon of bacon grease or olive oil in an iron skillet. Saute some chopped onion until soft, then add washed and torn collards along with any clinging water to the pan. You may need to add a little more water to help them wilt. Season with marjoram and pepper, cover and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. Add salt to taste, and have hot sauce handy if you like it. This works for about any substantial leafy green (turnip, Russian kale, collards, mustard). I learned the recipe years ago from a New Orleans cookbook and love its simplicity. FYI, collards and other greens are best when grown in cool weather (under 70) and when kissed by frost. As temps get into the 80s, they can develop a hot, bitter taste. That's when we southerners switch to chard and tropical greens like callaloo (a kind of amaranth, as I recall).

                        2. Hmmm...your profile doesn't specify your location but based on your history of posting on the SF Bay Area board and the few items you mention, I'm guessing that we may belong to the same CSA: Two Small Farms? This is just my third week and like you, I am eating more greens than I ever have in my life...a good thing! :-)

                          Husband pulled out the huge collard leaves tonight and had a puzzled look on his face before I enlightened him. I'm not sure what I will do w/ them. Maybe Southern-style w/ ham hock or in some kind of gratin w/ sweet potato or toss into a soup. Greens are so versatile. I will probably try to use the stem in some way if it's edible. Perhaps I'll blanch and try pickling them. I'm learning to use ALL parts of the veggies (like radish and turnip greens, cauliflower leaves). It's fun.

                          BTW, the Two Small Farms website is a great resource for recipes and general info.

                          I'm excited to play w/ the baby artichokes this week!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            Another 2 Small Farms subscriber here, but we haven't received them as often. Last time, I made chipotle orange collards. Boil a bit, then sautee with oil, chipotle and orange juice. Add salt and acid as needed. Really yummy. Yesterday I made with some pork country suasage, raisins, sherry vinegar and some agave syrup (because I always use that for quick sweetener - but honey would work too). My 6 year old had 2 servings, passing up the roasted cauliflower for green vegetables... He ate his with BBQ sauce.

                            1. re: jsaimd

                              I'm actually further north - Canvas Ranch CSA in Sonoma/Marin counties. I"m jealous of your lists though - avocados!

                              Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I don't have a huge amount, so I'll probably do something fairly simple for this first batch, but I suspect they'll show up again!

                          2. After I boil and shock them I like them Italian style... saute with caramelized onion, garlic, capers and pancetta. Topp with shards of parm. Yummy!!

                            1. When I'm inundated with CSA greens I tend to break out the bacon, onions and chipotle tabasco.

                              It sounds like you need some Deborah Madison cookbooks!

                              1. i know that this is late in the game, but if you reserve the pot likker, remember to make corn bread dumplings, what some coastal nc folks call dodgers. The dumplings are really simple. Mix cornmeal and water then add salt and pepper (if you like pepper in your cornmeal) to taste. Mix it to a consistency that you can mold a little with your hands. take a small amount in your hand and make a little ball. drop into the boil. add some green onions and eat the pot likker, dumplings and onion soup.......good eating. great on a cold day, plus the likker is like vitamin water......