Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mess O' Greens--Collards!

Mess O' Collard Greens

    I was surprised recently to learn that my mother-in-law who is an outstanding cook
and expert baker and all around A plus gold star homemaker material did not know what collard greens were!   I suppose its a regional thing.  We are from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and mountain region where there is a heavy German and Scots Irish influence.
We take for granted that everyone should know what souse and scrapple are, but it is not the case.   Collard greens are in the cabbage family, but don't form a head like cabbage.
They are wonderful tasting and packed with vitamins and nutrition.  I struggled for years to learn to like greens without much success until I tried collards.  Yum! I could sit down and eat them all by themselves.  They are Southern goodness at its finest.  Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House prepares them sauteed with other veggies and they are manna from Heaven!  My brother-in-law, Doug Graham prepares them with ham and onions and they are perfection!  I am pleased  with myself that I did not give up on greens when turnip greens did not really do it for me.  Oh what I'd have been missing!  A "mess" of something is a big batch.  Southerners don't know how to fix a little bit of anything.

The recipe below to prepare them is simple and basic. Taught to me by a man I'd never met before in Food Lion grocery store.  The secret to fixing and liking collards or any greens is getting rid of the "grassy" taste by par boiling.


Here is me holding a bunch of fresh collards in the kitchen. You can find them in most produce sections of good grocery stores.


Ingredients:
Big kettle
colander
Large bunch of collard greens
ham or fat meat
onion
salt
pepper

Directions:
unbundle greens and wash thoroughly in kitchen sink to remove
any mud, sand or grit.
Chop greens on cutting board removing the tough center stalk.
I cut that out and use all the rest. Chopping my greens by rolling up the leaves
and using a large kitchen cleaver to chop into medium pieces.

Par boil greens in water for 10 min or so then pour through a colander to strain out greens
in sink. This is the key to getting rid of the "green, grassy" taste that can be unpleasant.
*Edited to say:  Doug has a recipe that cuts out the par boil without being "grassy" and preserves 100% of the nutrition and vitamins poured off in the first draining. I'll learn it and repost later.

Replace greens in kettle with fresh water, salt to taste, pepper, chopped onion and ham or fat meat.  I fixed this mess like Doug does with peppers and onions and a few carrots for colors.  Tasty and pretty too!

Bring greens back to a boil for 5 min. reduce heat and boil for 15 min.
Then simmer slow for an hour to allow them to become tender and soak up the flavors.


Great served with corn bread for pot likker. 

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