These 64 years I have never eaten collard greens. For some reason I thought there was something not tasty about them, or tough, or whatever stories I had heard, that turned out not to be true! So I asked a couple of co-workers who eat them regularly, and they gave me general ideas about how to prepare them. They mentioned vinegar and hot sauce, after the dish had been cooked with potatoes and ham hock or bacon. Then I hit the internet, and got more specific info, and I was ready to give them a good try!
As a diabetic, there are lots of foods I don’t eat any more. Things can get a little ho-hum, and I have always been up for trying new things: different flavors, foreign foods, hot stuff, unique things. All within a budget, of course. Also, I’ve been trying to grow more things I can eat in my little summer garden. I like that idea a lot. Time to try something very new to me; collards, which I have learned are also pretty easy to grow. So I found a recipe that seemed to incorporate the things my co-workers had said about a successful collard dish.
Fried some bacon, set it aside. Sautéed some onion in the grease from the bacon. Cleaned and cut up the potatoes. Washed the greens well, cos all the instructions say the leaves will let things cling to them: dirt, bugs. I didn’t need extra protein. Washed them in the sink, with lots of water. You have to clean them as well as you do mint, if you’re familiar with that, cos bugs and things really stick to their leaves too. Took out the main stems, which look tough like directions said they would be. Throw them in the compost pile! Tore up the greens and put them in a little water with the potatoes, then added the onion and bacon once it got cooking. Cooked all that on simmer for about an hour.
They told me to add a little vinegar, and so did on-line recipes, and that seemed to make sense to my palate so I added just a little after it was done cooking. I didn’t try any hot sauce, yet, cos I wanted to taste what this really tasted like before I possibly obliterated the flavors with hot sauce. But I do like hot stuff, and I’ll try that.
This flavor is a mild cabbage flavor with a taste of its own as well. I like cabbage; one of my favorite dishes is plain old green cabbage cooked with potatoes and kielbasa. If you like cabbage, or just want to try something different and have never had collard greens, you should try this.
The next time I’ll make it with a ham hock, which is another thing I love to cook with. The sweet and un-salty flavor of a ham hock is delicious. Cook the hock in water for about an hour, then cool it and cut it apart, discarding fat and skin.
Don’t forget to throw the bones, fat and skin out in the yard for the creatures of the night, like possums, which are plentiful here! Not much of any food value goes in to land fills from my kitchen. They gotta eat too!
I ordered some seeds to grow collards myself in the summer in the garden. Another item I can pick, fix and eat. I’ve also learned that collards are full of good vitamins, the way all darker greens are. My garden is small and has to be easy, cos I’m getting old(er) and don’t have as much energy for garden work as I used to. But a small garden, well-tended with well-chosen items, can be pretty productive. It always includes lots of herbs, which add so much flavor to all kinds of dishes.
I now like collard greens!