Friday, April 16, 2010

Southern Style Collard Greens

Southern seasoned collard greens made with smoked pork hocks, or other smoked meats, and served with raw onion, vinegar pepper sauce and cornbread or hoecakes on the side.

Southern Style Collard Greens

Collard greens and ham hocks were just meant to be together in my opinion. I mean, is there possibly anything more southern than a big bowl of southern style collard greens, made with ham hocks and a couple of hoe cakes tucked into the corner of the bowl? I absolutely adore collards personally, and really, though you can use a few other types of meats to season them with, ham hocks rule.

The other day, I asked The Cajun to make a pit stop by the market on his way home, and he just happened to pass by his Mama's and the Winn Dixie store. Well, lo and behold, Winn Dixie just so happened to be having a 2 for 1 special on collard greens, so in he walks with this armload, and I mean ARMLOAD full of 4 huge bundles of collard greens.  Collard greens are in season right now down here and plentiful and I am telling y'all, that man cannot pass on a bargain!  Well, I recently had a reader request for hoe cakes anyway, so I bumped that up to enjoy some of those with this new found bounty of collards that had just walked into my door!

Now, I confess, I love greens, but ... I am the only one in this house who will eat them, which really makes the whole thing about The Cajun bringing home this big bundle of collards funny - he will not touch collards! I don't know what is wrong with that man!! While there are a few veggies I manage to get into him {and a few I sneak into him}, bottom line is that he is simply a meat and potatoes man.  So, it is a rare thing for me to make greens from fresh, because frankly, it is a bit of work for just one person. Over the last few years, while I have ventured outside of the frozen box, I've pretty much kept it simply to mostly a few seasonings and sauteed down in some bacon. Time to kick it up a notch!  Be sure to check out these fantastic suggestions and tips from the amazing folks at our Facebook page too!

This time I am using ham hocks for seasoning, so first I got those going to season the water for the greens.  You can use other smoked meats - neck bones, turkey legs, ham and good ole bacon are very common - and I've used them all,but smoked pork hocks are my preference.  Cover the ham hocks with water plus about another inch, then add salt, Cajun seasoning, onion, garlic, and a couple dashes of hot sauce. If you use a highly seasoned smoked meat, such as Cajun style, omit the hot sauce and Cajun seasoning until they are cooked. Then taste and adjust. Bring the hocks to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.

Thankfully, I have a neighbor across the street who was the recipient of half of this 2 for 1 bounty - after I cleaned them of course - which is the next thing you'll need to do while the ham hocks are simmering.  Mostly this involves tearing the leaf away from the hard stalk and then washing and rinsing the greens, sometimes multiple times, to ensure getting rid of all dirt and grit. Three rinses seems to be the magic number. One of the Facebook tips that was shared, was to bundle the greens in a pillowcase and use your washing machine to do a plain, cold water rinse and then, to spin the greens.  I was fortunate that the bunches I had were actually pretty clean, so a couple of rinses was all I needed. What I do is to fill a clean sink with water and plunge all of the leaves in the water; drain and repeat two more times.

If you're never cleaned collards before, it's just a matter of pulling, or cutting away, the tough stem from the tender green leaf.  Once you get the hang of it, you can pretty much just strip it, sort of like you would with fresh herbs. Some people prefer to use a knife to cut around the stem, but I just stripped them to make a quick and easy job of it. You can also just substitute 2 large (16 ounce) packages of already cleaned and chopped collards, though you do pay a premium for those.

Once you strip the stems away, stack about 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another.

And then cut them in half lengthwise and stack them together again.

Then, you can either roll the leaves up like a cigar and cut them into strips, about 1 inch in width, or just keep restacking and cutting them lengthwise, then across into strips.

Dredge all the chopped leaves in a large pot of water, drain them and add them to the pot with the ham hocks. To season the greens, I use chicken broth, brown or white sugar, oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, a pat of butter, and some scraps of ham, if you happen to have some remnants leftover from a holiday ham.

Let the greens cook down, give them a stir, cover and cook on low. Some people like them a bit firmer so check them at about 30 to 45 minutes if you like them firmer, or go as long as 1-1/2 to 2 hours, if you like them more tender and cooked down, stirring occasionally. Add additional chicken broth, if liquid cooks out too much. Sprinkle with dried pepper flakes just before serving, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve with cornbread or hoe cakes and offer chopped raw sweet onion and pepper sauce to pass at the table.

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Recipe: Southern Style Collard Greens

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 1 hour |Cook time: 1 hour | Yield: About 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 (16 ounce) packages chopped fresh collard greens (or 2 large bunches collard greens, cleaned, rinsed and chopped)
  • 2 pounds smoked meat (ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, wings, or smoked neck bones)
  • Water to cover plus an inch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Couple dashes hot sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings or oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped leftover ham, optional
  • Additional chicken broth, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Vinegar pepper sauce, for the table
  • Hoecakes or Cornmeal Dumplings (recipe below), optional

Slash the ham hocks (or other smoked meat) lightly with a knife. Put in a large stock pot and cover them with water, plus about an inch. Add the salt, Cajun seasoning, onion, garlic and hot sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. While the ham hocks are simmering, strip, rinse, drain and chop the collards, if using fresh bunches; set aside.

To the ham hocks, add the cleaned greens, chicken broth, sugar, bacon fat or oil, vinegar, soy sauce, butter, and ham remnants. Cook the greens down, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes if you like them firmer; 1-1/2 to 2 hours, if you like them more cooked down, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, if liquid cooks down too low. Taste, season with additional salt and pepper as needed; sprinkle with dried pepper flakes, if desired. Pull any remaining meat from hocks and return to greens, discarding bones.

Serve with cornbread or hoe cakes and offer chopped raw sweet onion and vinegar pepper sauce at the table.

Cook's Notes: If preparing cornmeal dumplings below, increase water in greens to cover plus 3 inches. To prepare turnip greens, peel and dice the turnip root and add that in with the ham hock after it has cooked about 30 minutes and while you strip, wash and chop the greens. Proceed with the recipe as above.

Slow Cooker: Add smoked meats, salt, Cajun seasoning, onion, garlic, hot sauce, greens, 4 cups chicken broth, sugar, bacon fat or oil, vinegar, soy sauce, butter, and chopped ham to a 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 9 hours, or until greens are tender. Add red pepper flakes if using.

Pot Likker Soup: Prepare as above, except after stewing ham hocks, instead of 2 cups chicken broth, use a total of 8 cups of chicken, pork, vegetable broth and/or water, or a combination. May also add additional vegetables, such as celery, diced red potatoes, corn, diced carrots, field peas and other southern peas.

Cornmeal Dumplings
©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of all-purpose cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 large egg
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl beat together the buttermilk, oil and egg; add to dry ingredients and gently stir to combine. Using a slotted spoon, remove the greens from the pot likker and set aside in a large bowl. Bring the liquid to a boil and using a small cookie scoop or kitchen spoon, drop dumplings into the hot liquid. Return to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Check, recover and cook longer if needed.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on April 16, 2010
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  1. I made the yummy hoecakes yesterday to go with a pot of ham and beans. I can't wait until our collards and other greens are ready; it's still a little early for them here in Missouri.

  2. I kinda like greens and want to like them more - have always wanted to cook good collard greens. I pay attention everytime I see a recipe or show about them - this sounds like a recipe I could like. Beet greens are my favorite.

  3. I'll wager few dishes get more southern than this one. I don't fix greens often so it's nice to know I have a recipe from an expert next time I do. Have a great day, Mary.

  4. This site is incredible and everytime I visit here, my mouth begins to salivate! Here's my honest assessment of your site. Girl, you can throw down! I wish you'd write a cookbook and have all these recipes in one convenient place, in my kitchen :)

  5. I'll take the hoecake and my hubs will eat the collards - great post. I've never made collards - I am saving this post.

  6. I have to make this for my wife, she absolutely loves greens. Thanks for the tutorial, I didn't know how to make them.

  7. This looks delicious and I love those hoecakes. Now after seeing this, I will be making them soon. Love this post, thanks!

  8. I love the collards...I had a friend years ago who made them, I had never tried them before..Man were these good...and probably good for you,in that they are dark and leafy green. I could go for some right now..they are good for ail you....

  9. That looks so darn good.....have to make some this weekend!!!!

  10. OOhh Mary I love those collard greens! They are great with smoked turkey legs, as you listed. I've made them fresh only once or twice... the pillow case tip, what an idea!

  11. I have found the best way to cook smoked ham hocks is in my pressure cooker for about 20 or so minutes. The meat almost falls off the bone, the skin becomes fork tender and the broth is wonderful. I then add it to bean soups.

  12. Great tip Jane, I have not moved into the pressure cooker yet - need to brave up!

  13. I made these Southern Collard Greens last night,my husband and guest raved on and on how tasty this dish was. I would rate this a 5 star plus This recipe is a keeper

  14. Wonderful Mariuccia!! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and let me know - I really appreciate that!

  15. A cook in Charleston told me to leech the collards for a day or two in water, changing as necessary. This gets the bitterness out. It works!

  16. If you have the time, I certainly can't see how that would hurt! Thanks for the tip!!

  17. Wow, Ive cooked greens many times but I decided to try your recipe and I got to say I am hooked. Its so delicious and packed full of flavor. Thanks for sharing

  18. Thanks so much - glad you enjoyed them & Happy New Year!

  19. This recipe is awesome. I love it. I used beef stock (only thing I had on hand), omitted the soy sauce (I don't eat legumes or grains), and used 2 tablespoons of (grassfed, organic) butter and no olive oil. I was wondering if there might be a slow-cooker variant? I know next to nothing about cooking so I was hoping someone who knows more might have some insight...

    1. Thanks Syd! So glad you enjoyed the recipe. You certainly could make this in the slow cooker! I'd say put a total of about 4 cups of water in the slow cooker, add the smoked meats, seasonings and as many of the greens as you can squish in. Cover and let them cook down a bit and then add the remaining greens and stir. You could also put all of the greens in a pot on the stove and do a quick boil first, just long enough to wilt them down so they all fit in the crockpot at once, then transfer. I'd say cook them on low all day - 8 or 10 hours maybe, or probably about 4 on high. Let me know if you give them a try in the slow cooker!

  20. Made these last word: Awesome! Thanks for the recipe Syd!

  21. You're welcome Nikole! I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe & really appreciate you stopping back by to let me know!

  22. Mary, I really want to wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and also to tell you how much I appreciate your blog. I grew up on a lot of the foods you write about here, because my parents are from South CFarolina. I really love your Cajun and Creole recipes, which are new to me, yet are very authentic. I'm not the kind of person who is into "haute cuisine".

    I still love the kind of food I was raised on, and it's what I'm teaching my Granddaughters. My Mother's philisophy was that we should know how to cook well, even if we we're just cooking for ourselves.

    May God bless you and your family.

    1. That is so true Toni & I am so thrilled to hear that you are teaching your granddaughters to cook. So many kids know fast food & that's about it. God bless you Toni & Merry Christmas!

  23. Made this last night & they were Mmm Mmm good! This was a 1st of making them this way but gotta say this will be the only way for now on. Thx for this recipe :)

    1. You're welcome Lenore & thanks so much for coming back by to let me know you enjoyed the recipe. I really appreciate that!

  24. What a great recipe Mary . I made the collards greens with hamhocks for my family and friends on thanksgiving day they loved it.
    What a great recipe. Thanks Mary

    1. You're welcome Valerie!! Thank you for taking the time to come back by and let me know they enjoyed them. I really appreciate that!!

  25. I also made these for New Years Day... along with your New Years Southern Style Black Eyed Peas.... OMGosh!!! First I want to add that I have been cooking greens from many different recipes for my husband who hails from Battles Wharf, Alabama. Your recipe produced the BEST greens I have EVER made (in 20 some odd years) my husband raved as well, which is really the proof. Thank you for posting and I am pleased I had the good sense to follow it!!

    1. Elizabeth, you just made my day! I'm so glad you enjoyed my version of greens & thanks so much for taking the time to come back here and lift me up like this. You'll never know how much this meant to me today!!

    2. Thank You so much Mary for the comment.
      You are the best southern cook. I love your recipes.

    3. Thank You Mary for the comment. You have great recipes, I love your Southern

    4. Aw Valerie, thanks so much!! I'm just an old fashioned home cook who enjoys being in the kitchen really, but thank you!

  26. I'm getting ready for superbowl sunday & I'm going to try this recipe with the red beans & rice this should b great greans and corn bread on the side southern red beans & rice yummy

  27. The best! I will eat the whole pot... But, I have my family to feed too.

    1. I do know what you mean!! Fortunately in my house, I'm the only greens eater!! :)

  28. This is hands down the best greens! I've made this 5 times already and every time they're gone in no time. This translates real well in the crockpot as well.

  29. I know I'm sooooooo late. I just found this recipe and will be trying it today. I have pork fat in hand. Do I cook it the same way you did the ham hocks?

    1. We're a recipe site so you're never late to t his party! Yes, essentially it's the same except you're not going to season the water for quite so long without the bone of the ham hocks. I'm assuming you're talking about salt pork or fatback to season the greens, so just add it as you would with the hocks, but you only need to let it simmer for about 10 minutes before adding in the greens, chicken broth, etc. and continuing with the recipe. Hope you enjoy them!!

  30. Can you use self riding cornmeal in stead of the all purpose cornmeal for the dumplings??

    1. Hi Aryonna! I only buy the regular, all-purpose cornmeal, but I'm sure it would work. Depending on whether you are using just self-rising cornmeal or cornmeal "mix," you'd just need to adjust the ingredients accordingly.


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