Chef, cookbook author, and recipe developer Virginia Willis is a big proponent of collard greens and wonders why they haven’t received the celebrity treatment that kale has enjoyed for the last few years. “Down South,” Virginia writes, “we know that collard greens are good and good for you. Georgia Southern and Alabama Blue certainly don’t sound exotic, but these heirloom varieties are the stars of country cooking.” In the rest of the country, collards are often misunderstood and thought to be the food of the poor. In the past, the only way collards were prepared was simmered, sometimes boiled in water, along with strips of bacon, ham hocks, or fatback. This method is still very popular and incredibly delicious, but Virginia has believes it is time to fresh look at this Southern staple. In this recipe, she pairs collard greens with rice, another favorite Southern ingredient, to create a savory and flavorful dish hearty enough to be served as a main entrée. This dirty rice gets its flavoring from chicken sausage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and even a poblano chile. Just add a serving of hot cornbread.
4 ounces chicken sausage (such as andouille or Italian), casings removed, finely chopped
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
2 cups chicken stock
8 ounces collard greens, stems trimmed, large ribs removed, and finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion, celery, and poblano, and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sausage; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add rice, thyme, paprika, and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in stock, collard greens, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is tender, about 18 minutes.
Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Add scallions, and fluff with a fork to combine. Serve warm with hot sauce.