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Southern-style collard greens - is the bone essential?

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I happen to have some smoked ham on hand from a neighbor who has quite the fascination with a new smoker. It's boneless and my only experience with Southern-style collard greens is through my family who always ham hocks but of course I can't seem to find any of them when I need an answer to this question. Is the bone essential? Will the boneless meat work just as well? It's easy enough to pick up a few fresh hamhocks or turkey wings so I thought I'd ask before I went for it.

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  1. The boneless ham will work just fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      Great, thanks.

    2. my aunties recipe is 2 pounds bacon fried till crisp add collards and some chicken stock simmer till ready, about 1 hour (but I usually go only 30 min) add hot sauce as much as you like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: NatasaSevoleva

        my aunties hot sauce recipe:

        scotch bonnet peppers and white vinegar with some salt in blender. mix till all combined and mashed up very well. Place in jar and use in all your dishes.

      2. Ideal way for me is to first make a ham stock with smoked hocks and onions, reduce with some vinegar, then add greens. The cooked meat itself won't have much flavor for flavoring the greens, but having good stock on hand would change the equation. I would with rendering some bacon, adding onions and some garlic to sweat, maybe chili flakes, cider vinegar to deglaze, then the stock, simmer for a while, then add the cleaned and destemmed collards.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MattFutral

          I was actually just going to do your original method with the chopped boneless meat. Would that work?

        2. Absolutely. "Southern style" collard greens are cooked that way because Southerners used cast-off parts of smoked meats to flavor vegetables - how much or how depends on your taste. As an aside just because I love collards so much: When JFK sent a group in to draw attention to poverty among sharecroppers in the rural South in the 60's, they expected to find a lot of poor whites and poor African-Americans with severe malnutrition. Most of them were very poor and some of them wanting, but they found they had none of the nutritional dificiencies they had expected (like scurvy and anemia) because they ate so many collards, which provide vitamin C, iron, and so many other vitamins. Any way you prepare it, it's extremely healthy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MattFutral

            Yea, I have watch my grandmother cook in the traditional southern African-American style and wonder why she's not falling over debilitated with all of the issues she should have based on her diet, but she's an 85 year old spring chicken picture of health along with her 13 siblings. I assume you're absolutely is that yes, boneless is OK? :) Thanks for the reassurance.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Similar pedigree but grandparents are long gone. I'm thinking where bones make the difference is not so much the flavor, but in the gelatin and mouth feel of the "pot likker'". In any case, this is not a test, and you can't fail!

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                yep -- all the flavor will be there, but the likker will be thinner.

                Go for it.

          2. Best collard greens for me used smoked turkey wings instead of the ham. I use the ham for my black-eyed peas on New Year's Day and like the contrast between the two dishes when they are side by side. I also add vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes. So good!!

            1. Well, SO ate the smoked meat for late night snack it seems with a group of hungry men. I picked up a few smoked turkey wings and so am off on my first collard green adventure. I love a big pot from grandma but never have tried them at home.

              Is this the general idea:

              Boil water with turkey wings, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour
              Remove
              Add greens
              Put back in chopped wing meat
              Simmer another hour

              How much broth do you start for the wings?
              The vinegar and hot sauce sound nice, when do you add them?

              Thanks all