A bunch of collard greens came in my co-op basket last week, and as a Western New York native, I was completely lost. No idea what to do with them, apart from, I don’t know, massage them like kale and put some sort of honey mustard dressing on them, like I do with basically everything (I make a mean honey-mustard dressing).
Luckily, I had just bought a copy of Paleo Comfort Foods. The authors joke in the introduction that they had originally wanted to call this book something like “Redneck Paleo,” because of its emphasis on Southern cooking. While the book is certainly more sophisticated than that, I was very grateful for its decidedly Southern flair — and its inclusion of an awesome collard greens recipe.
Basically, you boil a whole mess of greens with two ham hocks and some onions. The whole thing takes about an hour, and it turns out incredibly flavorful. The tough greens are softened by the simmer and flavors are brought out by the ham hock and the onion. Even more flavor is added by crumbling bacon on the top.
The best way to cut these greens is to chiffonade them, by the way. What I did was fold them in half, use a sharp paring knife to cut away the stalk, then stacked and rolled the leaves. I then sliced the roll into one-inch segments — very much the way you would prepare basil for a Caprese salad.
Other than that, there’s not much else to say! This is an incredibly easy, incredibly flavorful way to get new greens into your diet. And, especially when you’re Paleo, that is never a bad thing.
Adapted from Paleo Comfort Foods
- 2 bunches collard greens
- 4 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3 quarts of water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 ham hocks, smoked
Wash and de-stem collard greens. Once all leaves are removed and stems discarded, take 6-8 leaves at a time and roll them up. Using a chef’s knife, cut the rolls every inch or so. Put in a large bowl; set aside.
Cook bacon in a large stockpot until dark and crispy. Remove bacon, setting aside for garnish, but retain drippings in the pot. Remember that animal fat from healthy, happy, vegetarian animals is good for you, and that it will make everything taste amazing.
Saute garlic and onion in drippings until the onions are translucent. Then drop collards in one handful at a time, tossing with a large spoon until they have wilted to one half their original size.
Add water, black pepper and ham hocks. Stir well, and bring to a slight boil. Ignore your dog, who is now salivating and begging for a ham hock. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
Chop or crumble bacon into small bits. Remove collards from the stock pot with a slotted spoon, or dump into strainer. Place in large serving bowl, and garnish with the chopped bacon.