There are many delicious ways to cook collard greens, but this is best-known way to do it in the South—low and slow in a stockpot (or slow cooker) with plenty of bold, smoky ingredients to amp up the flavor of the greens. These collard greens may take a few hours to simmer, but they only require a few minutes of hands-on cooking time. And they can be made ahead and reheat beautifully—in fact, they taste even better on the second or third day. Traditionally, Southern collard greens are made with pork. In this recipe, chopped bacon is cooked until almost crisp and the drippings are used to saute chopped onions, which forms the foundation of the dish, along with chopped smoked ham and garlic. If you do not eat pork, you can substitute 3 tablespoons olive oil for the bacon drippings, and 1 smoked turkey wing for the smoked ham. You can also up the smoky flavor by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika to the broth. Don’t forget to add apple cider vinegar to the broth. If you’re new to making collard greens, this might seem like a strange addition, but the vinegar adds a welcome tangy note that brightens the dish and balances out the salty, savory flavors. A tablespoon of sugar also helps balance out the dish. If you like your greens on the spice side, add a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, or serve the finished dish with hot pepper vinegar or hot sauce on the side.
12 hickory-smoked bacon slices, finely chopped
2 medium-size sweet onions, finely chopped
3/4 pound smoked ham, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 (32-oz.) containers chicken broth
3 (1-lb.) packages fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
How to Make It
Cook bacon in a 10-qt. stockpot over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until almost crisp. Add onion, and sauté 8 minutes; add ham and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 hours or to desired degree of tenderness.