Collard greens have been at home in the American South for generations. Our long growing season and mild winters enable us to grow an abundance of fresh summer and winter vegetables, ideally suited for quick and easy suppers. The weather also means that collards can be grown almost year round, allowing farmers to harvest two crops a year, one in the spring and then again in the fall. Generations ago, growing greens year round meant that rural families were assured of at least one nutritious vegetable during the often-times lean winter months when not much else was available. Mom was right when she told us to eat our greens, for collard greens, now so popular with chefs and home cooks alike, is so nutritious it is labeled a “super foods.” Like people in other regions of the country, folks in the South have their favorite way of preparing their beloved dishes and will argue about it. Country fried steak – is it dredged in flour or crushed crackers? A hot skillet of cornbread – can it have a pinch or two of sugar or will you be driven out of town? So it is with collard greens. While many will argue about how long to boil them, what piece of pork do you add for flavor, and how to season them, cooking a mess of collards is really easier than picking them. Stick to this simple traditional formula for a delicious pot of goodness. Add some aromatics, such as onions, to the pot and sweat them a bit. Add your cut of pork, whether it is ham hocks, bacon, or a ham bone, and pour in your broth. Then toss in your collards and let simmer for an hour or longer, until the collards are tender and reach your desired degree of doneness.
[MUSIC] Cooking collard greens is kind of like SEC football teams or making biscuits. Every southerner has an opinion. This is how we cook collards when we want to go traditional. It's really easy and it's all about the pot liquor. First, get aromatics going in the bottom of the pot, like onion and garlic. Once they're fragrant, add your pork factor. Like these ham hocks. Next, add broth to get the pot liquor going. Then add greens and seasonings and keep the whole thing simmering for an hour, or until they reach the doneness you like. For more test kitchen tips, visit SouthernLiving.com