Whole Potta Love

Southern Style Collard Greens with Pot Liquor
What better way to start a New Year than with this traditional southern delicacy? While most people are salivating over Christmas hams and prime ribs, fluffy mashed potatoes and casserole dishes filled to the brim with stuffings, macaroni and cheese, and other seasonal stars, I am quietly biding my time, waiting for New Year's day when I can snatch the remains of the ham from Mr. B's plate and put the last handsome chunks into my pot of greens.

The leafy greens have a bad reputation; tough and bitter, they need only to be understood. The key to flavorful greens is to add enough seasoning and to cook them for an extended period. That said, it's important not to go overboard on either the addition of fat, or overcooking them until they are mushy. The best greens are tender, melt-in-your-mouth delectable with a bit of bite and good spice.

Collard Greens

3 bunches collard greens, center stem removed; cleaned and chopped
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup leftover ham chunks and bits (whatever you can pull off of the bone) or, pickle meat
1 toe of garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 cups homemade chicken broth
2 T. bacon fat
1 T. butter
Seasoning: black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper
Hot sauce (I like Crystal or Frank's)

Melt bacon fat and butter in a heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add sliced onion and stir to coat in fat; cook until onion begins to soften, then add garlic and seasoning and continue to cook until onions begin to brown slightly. Add chopped greens and allow greens to soften; stir and cover with lid. Continue to allow greens to soften, stirring every few minutes until they are bright green and the volume has considerably decreased. Add stock and ham chunks, reduce head, and cover, leaving lid slightly ajar.

Cook, stirring every 30-45 minutes, for 6-7 hours. Adjust seasoning and serve.

I like to serve mine in a deep bowl with extra 'pot liquor' (the broth) and a big piece of crumbled corn bread.


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