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Southern Collard Greens Recipe

| January 1, 2012 | 13 Comments


Southern Collard Greens, that delicious green vegetable served year round in most Southern households.  It’s the mainstay side dish of most every New Years Day meal.  It’s even supposed to be good for you.  But wait, I hate collards.  I always have and I always probably will.

Thus, you may wonder why in the world I would want to make collard greens the very FIRST RECIPE that I would ever post here on Taste of Southern.  After all, the first recipe should be “special” in so many ways.  You would think a person would want to post their very favorite dish of all times as the first.  Maybe a dish that folks have proclaimed for years that it was the best thing you ever cook.

Why then, would collard greens be the first recipe on a brand new website?  Let’s just call it a little…..GRATITUDE.

Let’s begin with just a little background.  We need to get to know each other and this will give you just a little insight into what Taste of Southern is all about.  If you’re in a hurry though, scroll on down to the fully illustrated photos and printable recipe below.  It’s OK.

Introducing:  Taste of Southern
“Taste of Southern” is all about the great southern cooking that I grew up on.  It’s all we knew growing up here in North Carolina.

I grew up poor.  I just didn’t know it at the time.

My brother and sister told me stories about how food was scarce during the early days of my life.  I don’t remember any of it though.  What I remember is that you just didn’t visit our house without mama offering you something to eat.  To me, there was always food at our house.  Or at least mama made it seem that way.  I don’t think I ever missed any meals along the way.  She always had something on the table come meal time.

Maybe by the time I got old enough to start noticing things; God had already begun pouring out His blessings for her generosity to feed others.  I just don’t remember those poor times.

Mama:
My mom was a fantastic cook.  It was her hobby and her life.  She just loved to cook for her family and for her friends.  And, everyone loved her cooking.  She did some other things, like quilting and a little crocheting but, cooking was her gift and her talent.  God had truly blessed her with this talent and she used it well.

Mama had her standard dishes, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, her simple tomato soup spaghetti, chocolate layer cake and of course….her made from scratch….buttermilk biscuits.  She only cooked ONE thing that I never did learn to like and that was….collards.

Sunday Dinner:
Sunday’s were very special at my house.  I went to church most every Sunday, whether I wanted to or not.  Then, after church, we all gathered around the table for the meal that mama had started hours before the rest of us had even woke up.  She’d begin cooking early in the morning, turn the pots off, go to church, come home and start the process rolling again and then serve about 15 or more gathered around that big dining room table.

My brother and sister were both married and gone as they were a few years older than I was.  Still, they were there almost each and every Sunday, along with the current pastor and his family.  If they weren’t, mama would call them to see if they were on the way.

Mama, my dad, my brother and sister all loved collards.  I was just different.  I always said that I would just as soon go out and eat grass in the yard as to eat collards.  I didn’t see much difference.  You couldn’t drown them with enough vinegar or anything else to make them enjoyable.  I still don’t like them.

Have no fear though with the recipe.  It’s tried and tested.  I called on members of my family for help to re-create what mama did in preparing them.  I think it turned out pretty close but I still don’t like them.

I’ll just cherish the memory that whenever mom set the table for Sunday dinner, she would always place that big old bowl of collards at the other end from where I was sitting.  She knew I didn’t like them and wouldn’t even sit them close by me.  Gotta love a mom like that.

This then is a very special recipe for me.  Not only is it the first one to be posted on this new site, it’s a tribute to my mom, a very SPECIAL mother.  A mom that raised us kids’ right, taught us right from wrong, taught us to love others, to help others and to love the Lord.  She was very special to us all and we miss her dearly.  It would be great if she were actually here to help me as I begin this journey.  I’d like to ask her lots of questions and seek her advice and wisdom.  Still, she’s with me as I heat up her old black skillet or round out a buttermilk biscuit by hand, just like she taught me.

So, join us as we begin this new journey of adding our favorite southern recipes to the Internet.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as we have and still do….well….except for the collards.

Let’s Get Cooking!

 


For our Southern Collard Greens, we’ll need these ingredients and a couple of “Secret Ingredients” listed further down. You’ll just have to keep reading to see what they are.

 


You’ll need about a 6 quart sized pot to begin.  Place about 3 quarts of water in the pot and bring it to a boil.  Wash and scrub your ham hock well and place it in the boiling water.  Reduce the heat to about medium and let the ham hock simmer.  The ham hock will need to cook longer than the collards to get tender.  Besides, you’ll need the extra time to get those greens really good and clean.

 


Collards fresh out of the field are usually pretty well coated in dirt.  Most farmers markets and grocery stores will do a pre-wash on them but it’s not good enough that you would want to go ahead and cook them.  You’ll still need to scrub and wash each individual leaf to make sure there isn’t any dirt left on them.  You’ll probably even need to do the wash, rinse and repeat procedure a couple of times to get them totally clean.  You don’t want your family or guests biting into some grit when they start enjoying your greens.

 


The leaves are usually pretty large.  Even the bunch that I purchased seemed like a lot of collards but, they will reduce down when you start adding them to the hot water.  You should end up with a nice “mess of greens” as we say in the South.

 


Either on your cutting board or holding it in your hand, fold the leaf over in half along the stem line.

 


Now, kind of roll the leaf down the stem and separate the leafy green from the tough stem.  Yeah, it’s a bit time consuming but worth the effort in my opinion.  Some folks say chop the stems up and let them cook.  I think you’ll find them to be bitterer if you leave the stem in.  It’s your choice.

 


Completely separate the stem from the leaf and discard the stem.  You can add them to your backyard mulch bin if you have one or just trash them.

 


Stack a couple of the leaves together.  We’re going to roll them and cut them.

 


Start at one end of the stack and tightly roll up the collard leaves.

 


Turn the leaves and slice right down the middle – lengthwise.

 


Squeeze the two halves back together, flip around and slice them again.  Just make 3/4 inch slices down the roll until you’ve got it all cut up.  Again, it’s a bit of work but it will help them to cook quicker and be tenderer.

 


You’ll end up with a big pan of cut up greens before you know it.

 


Start adding the collard greens to the pot of simmering water.  Add them a few at a time, let those cook down a minute or so and then add some more.  Just keep dumping them in until you’ve got them all in the pot of water with the ham hock.  Let them cook on a slow simmer.  I leave mine uncovered while they cook.  They say they keep their bright green color better if left in an open pot and turn darker green if covered.  Other than that, it doesn’t really matter whether you put a lid on the pot or not.

 


Go ahead and chop up the onions.  Yeah, it makes my eyes water just looking at this picture. (smile)

 


Then, chop up the garlic.  Hopefully yours will be fresher than mine was.  It was all I had.

 


In another small pan, melt the butter, then add the chopped onions and garlic.  You’ll want to sauté these just until the onions are translucent.  Keep an eye on this.  The garlic will burn easily and you just don’t want that to happen.

 


Add the onions and garlic to the pot of collards.  See how they have cooked down already.  All that liquid in the pot will soon be known as “potlikker” or “pot liquor.”  It can also be used later as a soup.  Keep reading.

 


Add salt and pepper….then….we’ll add the SECRET INGREDIENTS.

 


Shhhh….these are the SECRET INGREDIENTS.  Texas Pete Hot Sauce® and SUGAR!  You’ll need to add one Tablespoon of each.  Mama added sugar to all of her vegetables.  The hot sauce just adds a little flavor and doesn’t add heat unless you add a bunch more.  It’s probably best to leave any extra out at this point.  Each person can add more later to their individual servings if that’s what they like.  Now, let this cook for about 10 more minutes.

 


Using a slotted spoon, lift the collards out of the pot and place them in a large bowl.  Either chop them in the bowl or place them on your cutting board and chop them up some more like I did.  Leave the ham hocks and the potlikker in the pot, don’t throw that out, we’re going to put the chopped collard greens back in.

 


I couldn’t find my chopper so I ended up draining the greens and placing them on my cutting board.  I used my knife to chop them up a little more.  You don’t want to chop them so small that they’re mushy.  Collards can seem a bit tough but I think it depends on how big and old the collard heads are when you purchase them.  The bigger and older, the tougher they may be.

 


Carefully remove the ham hock from the pot.  Chop up the “meatier” portion and then place that along with the collards back into the pot of liquid and stir it up.  This will keep it all warm until ready to serve.  When you do serve it, you may not want to add all of the liquid to your serving bowl but you’ll want to add a good bit of it.  Lots of folks say that the “potlikker” is the best part of it all.  They like to “sop” it up with some cornbread.  (Sop is an old Southern word that basically means to dip or wipe up as in dipping the cornbread into the pot liquor.)

 


Serve up some greens with your favorite meat main course.  And, don’t forget the cornbread!

So, there you have it, our very first recipe ever posted on our Taste of Southern website.  If you have leftover potlikker, you can use that to make Potlikker Soup.  Check out the website for that recipe that includes cornmeal dumplings.  We’ll be posting it shortly.

Enjoy!!!

Southern Style Collard Greens

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Southern Style Collard Greens

Southern Collard Greens, a side dish served in Southern homes all year round. It's a traditional favorite for New Years Day as the greens are supposed to bring wealth for the New Year. Easy to prepare with this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 - Pound of fresh Collard Greens, washed well and chopped.
  • 1 - Smoked Ham Hock (about 4oz) or fat back, hog jowl or streak-o-lean
  • 1 - Medium Onion, chopped
  • 2 - Cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • 1 - teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 - Tablespoon of Salt
  • 1 - Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1 - Tablespoon of Texas Pete Hot Sauce
  • 1 - Tablespoon of Butter
  • 3 - Quarts of Water

Instructions

  1. Place 3 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Wash and scrub the Ham Hock well, cut into sections and add to the boiling water.
  3. Let Ham Hock simmer for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Wash the collard greens scrubbing each leaf under cool running water until clean.
  5. Fold each collard leaf in half, either in your hand or on your cutting board.
  6. Pull the leaf section away from the stem. Discard stems.
  7. Stack a couple of leaves together on your cutting board.
  8. Begin at one end and roll the leaves up tightly. Then, cut lengthwise down the center of the roll.
  9. Squeeze the cut sections back together, rotate and cut the roll into about 3/4 inch slices.
  10. Add leaves to the pot a little at a time, let them cook down a minute and then add more.
  11. Reduce heat to a low simmer, leave the pot uncovered and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  12. Chop the onions and chop or mince the garlic cloves.
  13. In a small saucepan on medium low heat, add the butter and let it melt.
  14. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the butter and sauté until onions are translucent.
  15. Add the cooked onions and garlic to your stock pot with the collard leaves.
  16. Add salt, sugar, black pepper and Texas Pete Hot Sauce in amounts listed. Stir well.
  17. Let simmer another 15 minutes or until the collards are as tender as you prefer.
  18. Using a slotted spoon, remove the greens and place in a bowl. Let the liquid continue to simmer.
  19. Chop the greens into smaller pieces but not to the point of being mushy.
  20. Remove the ham hock, chop the meatier portions into small pieces and return to the liquid.
  21. Return the chopped collard greens to the liquid and stir well.
  22. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes

Cornbread goes well with Collard Greens. Some folks like to dip their cornbread in the "potlikker" or liquid and eat it that way. Leftover potlikker and even some of the greens can be used to make Potlikker Soup.

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Category: Side Dishes

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Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (13)

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  1. Terry (Ted) Muse says:

    Thanks Steve for this awesome Collard Greens recipe. I was browsing the internet looking for an old southern recipe for collard greens, hoping to find something pretty close to how my grandmother made hers when I came across this website and your recipe. I think Nanny, my grandmother, lead me here to this website, LOL.
    Will be looking for more good old southern recipes from your website. The pictures are GREAT!! God Bless and Happy Trails.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Ted, Thank you for your comments and for your compliments. I sincerely appreciate it. I do hope you enjoyed the Collard Greens. I’m just glad it was you cooking them and not me. (Smile) I’m sure your Nanny would be proud that you were at least trying to cook up a batch. I’m thankful you found our site and I do hope you’ll check out some of our other recipes. Don’t be a stranger, stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      PS: I loved watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Happy Trails to you!

      • Bonnie says:

        I am looking forward to making this recipe! I just made your Chicken pastry recipe which was wonderful! Thank you for sharing these tasty recipes from the South. I think I am a southern belle in my heart or at least in my taste buds. :)

  2. Belinda says:

    Hello! I never leave a reply on any of these, but I just had to on yours. You actually brought tears to my eyes with the wonderful ways you talked about your mama. ( Which is very hard to do to this strong southern woman!) I just had to let you know how great I think it is that you are keeping these soul food dishes alive and spreading to all! Thank you and God Bless:)

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Belinda, Thank you so much for your very nice compliments and comments. It’s greatly appreciated. I often wonder what Mama would think of things like the Internet and the recipes that I’ve been able to post online. I’m sure she would love it and would never believe people from around the world are reading it daily.

      I sincerely appreciate your comments and your visit. I hope you’ll stop by for another visit… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

      • Anthony Parr says:

        Steve, have tried several of your recipes/ techniques and have been really rewarded with what I like to call Simple Foods Done Well. These are the foods I live on, not the tv level cooking shows. I do have to comment on the Banana Pudding: It’s ridiculous and I had an international conflict at home between my people and friends visiting from Ireland. Large words were exchanged when portions were running out. they even hyped southern accents thinking I could cook it by the no 2 wash tub.

        • Steve Gordon says:

          Hi Anthony, Thank you for the smiles today. I’m happy to hear you’ve been trying some of our recipes and that they’re turning out well for you. My sincere apologies for causing that “International” conflict over the Banana Pudding. You made me smile big with that one. I’ve heard from a few folks in Ireland here on our site, so maybe we can hold the peace with them. Can you really imagine a wash tub filled with Banana Pudding?

          Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your visit and hope you’ll stop by for another visit with us… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Cyndi Cantrell says:

    thank you for the great recipes and wonderful stories. I will be trying all your recipes. My mother passed away 1995 and I did not pay close enough attention when she was cooking all her wonderful southern dish, to be able to duplicate them. So thank you for sharing your mothers recipes

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Thank you for stopping by Cyndi. I appreciate your visit and your comments. I do hope you’ll try a recipe and come back and tell us how it went. I’m sorry to hear about your mom passing. Even though it’s been awhile, I’m sure you still miss her. Funny how as we get older, there are more and more things we wish we had done. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Frances Parker says:

    Great recipes,

  5. Ruth Mills Buffkin says:

    I dearly loved reading your article about your Mother and it warms my heart that she left you so many good memories about cooking. I can relate so much to that as it is so much like my Mother did, and I find it awesome that you are doing this in her memory. About your Mother having the pastor and family over for Sunday lunch sounds so much like the way my Mother did. I also look forward to seeing more recipes as time permits. Good job Steve and keep them coming; must say that I am looking forward to your desserts too.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Thank you so much “Mama Ruth.” How AWESOME that you were the first to leave a comment, a memory I will always treasure. You’ve always been so kind to me and that is greatly appreciated. I’ll be posting a Banana Pudding recipe shortly. I’ll be asking you to share your Strawberry Cake recipe soon…get ready. Be Blessed!!! –Steve

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