Simple Tricks For Perfect Southern-Style Collard Greens
Southern-Style Collard Greens
A love of Collard Greens is a cultural thing. These greens are unusual to many US residents that did not grow up with them. Some of us get the fun of experimenting with them as a substitute for kale or cabbage. However, the scary part of using collards come when your Southern spouse starts reminiscing about their grandmother’s recipe. The following tips and tricks are designed to help you understand these southern greens a little better. With practice and experimentation, you can create some amazing dishes.
Collard Greens Need A Long, Slow Cooking Process
This vegetable is a staple of Southern cooking and rarely seen in more northern parts. This is mainly due to the cooking time. Greens usually mean simple, leafy produce that cooks down in a few minutes. They are certainly more convenient that way. You need more love and patience with collards, which is why they suit Southern cuisine so well. It can take 2 hours to slow cook these greens to the perfect texture. They need time to soften and soak up the flavors. Chefs that take the time to treat them right don’t look back.
Pair Your Greens With A Good Bit Of Meat
The secret to a great collards recipe is the meat. Every bowl of collard varies from family to family, but almost all contain a healthy serving of pork. Ham hocks are one of the preferred options because they are so well suited to slow cooking. Cook your ham in your stock pot with some onions, chicken broth, and other favored ingredients. The greens can be added after 2 hours, once the meat is starting to fall off the bone. Add some vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 2 hours.
Ham hock and a good bit of pork are the more common choices for southern cooks. This is because they compliment the greens and work so well with slow cooking. There are alternatives for cooks that want to speed things up. Some use turkey necks and joint to cut the cooking time down significantly. Others skip the ham and use bacon for a different taste and flavor. This is a cost-effective solution if you have some leftover rashers lying around.
Don’t Forget About The Seasoning And Other Flavors
The best southern cooking recipes are those that understand the depth of flavor. This is why so much seasoning is added to the meat and greens during the cooking process. This one-pot method means that recipes can be easily manipulated to suit the tastes of family members. The amount of vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper can be easily altered. Many cooks choose to add garlic to compliment the ingredient, and it is up to you how many cloves to use. With time, you can experiment with other alterations. Look at user reviews below recipes for some neat tips and tricks about measurements and substitutions.
Make Good Use Of The Pot Liquor
The slow process of cooking these greens and the meat means that there are going to be lots of juices in the pot. This liquid is not a waste product. Instead, this liquor is a source of flavor, vitamins, and goodness. It is just like using the cooking juices of a roast chicken to make a gravy. Some diners like nothing better than soaking up the leftovers with some cornbread to finish off the meal nicely.
There are different approaches to using this liquid. Some like to keep it in the pot to use as a cooking liquid for the next batch of greens. Others use it to create the soup. Collards and pork soup are simple when you have this mineral-rich, flavorsome broth just sitting there. Just add some more meat and veg to your liking and thicken it up.
Collard Greens Are Not Something To Be Afraid Of
These greens can be a little intimidating for amateur cooks, in particular with that cooking time. There is also the added pressure of using such a classic of Southern cooking. Collards are different, but they are also versatile and easy to use if you follow these tips and tricks. Practice your timing and flavoring with ham hock and a good broth and go from there. With practice, you could recreate an in-law’s timeless recipe or even start a new tradition.