Country Collard Greens
Source of Recipe
From "A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen" by Dora Charles
"This is one beloved Southern food you're not likely to find cooked right outside the South. Cooks who aren't Southern just don't know what to do with collards, and even here, people often don't know that you cook them differently in different seasons. But it's something you need to know if you're going to cook Southern. The real thing has plenty of flavor from homemade pork stock, and the collards are tender but not mushy. Don't settle for any nasty overcooked greens. You'll get addicted like the rest of us if you cook them right. In our family, we say we're Geechees, but we're not really. The Geechees, who live on the Sea Islands off the Lowcountry coast of South Carolina and Georgia, love rice with everything. We do, too, and we love our collards with rice, and we shake a little pepper vinegar over them. When I ate collards with my grandmother in the old days, I liked to eat them with my fingers with cornbread and red wine vinegar shaken on top."
List of Ingredients
◦ 3 quarts water
◦ ½ pound smoked pork neckbones and fresh pigs' tails or smoked turkey wings
◦ 1 tablespoon Dora's Savannah Seasoning (recipe follows)
◦ 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
◦ 2 tablespoons bacon grease
◦ ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter
◦ 1 large bunch collards
◦ Pepper vinegar, for serving
In a large pot, bring the 3 quarts water to a boil. Add the neckbones and pigs' tails or smoked turkey wings, the Savannah seasoning, red pepper, bacon grease, and butter, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
Meantime, remove the heavy stem that runs down the center of the collard leaves by holding each leaf in one hand and stripping the leaf down with the thumb and index finger of the other hand. Toss out the stems.
Stack seven or eight leaves on top of each other, roll them up tight lengthwise, and slice into ½-inch-wide pieces. Repeat until you've shredded all the leaves. Then wash the collards twice, shake them, and drain in a large colander.
When the pork stock is ready, add the collards to the pot, cover, and simmer until they are tender. In the summer, you need to cook collards for 45 minutes to an hour; but during the winter, they'll only take 30 to 45 minutes, because the first frost tenderizes them. Keep a close eye on them; you'll know they're done when they're tender but not mushy. Near the end of the cooking, check the amount of liquid left in the pot. If there's too much, more than 1 cup, uncover the pot to cook down the liquid a little.
Serve the collards hot or warm (or save them for the next day), with pepper vinegar. You can put pieces of neckbones or pig's tail right on the plates or pull the meat from the bones and scatter the pieces over the greens. I like my greens soupy, so I spoon the potlikker on top. However you like it, make sure to save any leftover broth—it's loaded with flavor, so it's great for soup or flavoring rice.
❧ Dora's Savannah Seasoning:
"I keep this basic spicy seasoning mix in a little jar by the stovetop; I use it that often. It's good with almost everything from eggs to chicken to pork and even some vegetables, and you can save yourself a little time making it up ahead. Always taste what you're cooking once it's gone in, because you may find you need a little more of one or two elements to bring up the flavor."
◦ ⅓ cup Lawry's Seasoned Salt
◦ ¼ cup salt
◦ 2 scant tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
◦ 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix everything together very thoroughly.
Store the seasoning in a tightly sealed glass jar. It will keep for up to three months.
Makes about ⅔ cup