Collard Greens and Ham Hocks!

 
When I was growing up, we always ate greens, but not collard greens.  Everyone around here grew and cooked turnip greens and mustard greens or mixed them.  Some also ate poke on occasion.  I used to love poke salad when I was a little girl.  I had an uncle that really loved it and he and I were the only ones who would eat it, so my aunt would cook us a big pot or a 'mess' as southerners like to say and we would have contests to see who could eat the most.   I had forgotten about that until my mother reminded me of it the other day when we were talking about cooking greens.  
We started cooking collards after Paula Deen became so popular on Food Network and cooked them on there and my sister moved to Georgia where they eat collards and she found out how good they were and passed that info along. Also my sister, mother and I took a trip to Savannah, Georgia and ate at Paula Deen's restaurant and those collards were to die for. Anyway, long story short, collard greens are now our favorite greens, but we still eat the others also.  I love all greens cooked the right way.

This is how I cook my collard greens, but there are many variations and recipes and I know everyone likes their own so I am not saying this is the only way to do it.  This is a very tasty way to cook them though.   This is also not a set in stone recipe, you can vary the seasoning to your taste. There are a few musts when cooking greens to make them taste good though, use enough seasoning and you have to put some sort of meat grease in them.  Not a bucket full or anything, but you do have to put some bacon grease, ham hock, ham pieces...something.  It cuts any of the bitterness they might have.   Here is what you'll need:

2- 3 bunches of collard greens depending on how they are bundled, about enough to fill up a plastic grocery bag once they are cleaned
1 meaty ham hock or 2 if not so meaty (preferably a country ham hock)
1 Tbs of salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Cajun Seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's) or seasoned salt if you don't want the spiciness
1 Tbs hot sauce (something like Texas Peete is good) 
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. bacon drippings


Wash the ham hock off really well then place it in a dutch oven or large pot.  I like to use my cast iron dutch oven for this.  Cover the ham hock with water (about 2 quarts).  Add  the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and hot sauce to the water.  Bring this to a boil then turn heat to medium and cook the ham hock for about an hour. 

Wash the collard greens by running them through about three changes of water.  Lift each green individually out of the water to a large bowl or colander.  Change the water and do it again.  Collards are usually a little dirty and can be gritty and insects love them and will cling to them, so washing each one is important.  Even the bags that are sold in the supermarket that say they are prewashed and cut need to be rewashed at least once.  That's just my opinion...for what it is worth...lol.   When you have them washed, strip the leaves off of the stems that run through the middle of the leaves.  That stem is tough and fibrous...not good to eat.   Stack the leaves in a stack of about 7-8 and then roll them up like a cigar.  Take a sharp knife and cut the roll in about 1/2 inch strips.
Place the cut greens in the pot with the liquid and the ham hock.  It will look like a whole lot, but they will wilt and shrink down as they cook.  Add the sugar and the bacon drippings  Cook on medium low for about an hour. 

Remove the ham hock after one hour to a plate to cool. When it's cool enough to handle cut the lean meat off of the bone, it should just about fall off,  discard bone and fat and return the lean meat to the collards and mix.  Cook for about 30 minutes more and taste for seasoning.  Some people make the mistake of cooking greens to death.  They do not need to cook all day long.  They should still be a nice green when they are done.  The bigger your collard leaves, the longer it will take to get them tender.  Taste for tenderness and you will be able to tell if they need more time.

Serve with vinegar, Vidalia onion, and of course hoe cakes!   


22 comments:

  1. From the south here, Florida, love iced tea and cornbread, collard greens! Will definitely try this recipe. How do you make your hoe cakes?\

    Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is the link to the hoe cake recipe: http://sweetteaandcornbread.blogspot.com/2012/03/cornbread-hoe-cakes.html.

    Thank you for your comments and I hope your enjoy them!

    ReplyDelete
  3. WoW I thought all southerners ate Collards, glad you found them, they're my favorite of all greens !!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are now my favorites also. Glad we found them also!

      Delete
    2. My mama always fixed mustard and turnips..never Collards. I started fixing Collards and that's just about the only greens I fix...love them!! Gonna fix them for New Years. Thanks for your recipe, can't wait to try it.

      Delete
  4. Asking same question how do you...make your hoe cakes? A lady in a small town in Homeland, Florida named Mrs Billie used to bring them to the local meat market I worked at...I had never had them before that, OMG I was in heaven with the first bite...but every Saturday she would bring a batch, she would sit & watch us as we filled her grocery order for the week...& of course gossip, she passed away before I could ever get he recipe. So, lol...pretty please tell us how you make yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could'nt open the link above. It claimed the blog was no longer there.

      Delete
    2. Ms Billie Smith? I knew Billie Smith from going to school in Homeland and at Lake Garfield Baptist Church.

      Delete
  5. A friend of mine puts a cayanne pepper in hers left whole when she cooks them instead of the cajun seasoning...they are fabulous!!!!! I am a nothern girl, raised by hill billy parents and want to say thank you for this site. It makes me feel good that I can find the foods that I grew up eating to cook for my northern kids ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just can't like collards or turnip greens, but man that cornbread has my mouth water. I do like spinach, kale and chard, just can't get over the bitterness of the others. My mom used to make em, they looked and smelled so good. I'd try them again and again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Loved reading your blog and the greens look delicious. I am originally from Georgia now living in Las Vegas for the last 23 years. I still enjoy southern food but have long sense stopped eating meat.
    I have to say the vegetables of the Southwest although delicious do not even come close to the wonderful vegetables of the Southeast.
















    ReplyDelete
  8. collard greens are my favorite green-my husband always put them in our garden--instead of putting cayenne or garlicin as seasoing, I chop some fresh onions (scallions) including the green tops plus a whole hot pepper of choice. To go with this fine delicacy, I make a batch of fried cornbread, or as some people call it, hot water cornbread---better than anything else you would ever want to eat!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I confess that I usually put equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and sweetener (brown sugar, honey or maple syrup) in my greens along with some red pepper flakes. The vinegar/sweetener combo tenderizes the greens and the pepper flakes add a little zip. Other than that dif, I'm golden with your basic recipe and method.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanted to respond to the text above that mentioned using brown sugar for sweetener and using cider vinegar. That is how I do my collards. I use chicken stock for liquid and add a package of well done bacon and all the drippings from that. I add ham pieces, onions or onion powder, and pepper flakes. I don't measure anything, just throw it in to taste. I put everything in at the same time except for the vinegar and I add it towards the end of cooking.
      Cook down really good and you've got the best greens ever! Luv me some collard greens. Luv this site too!

      Delete
  10. Mexican Cornbread is Great with Collards.

    ReplyDelete
  11. do you have any black eyed pea recipes for New Years??

    ReplyDelete
  12. when cooking collard green to help with the strong smell drop one or two pecans, which are in the shell, into the collards. But remember to remove the pecans once the collard are cooked. Also I find that if you refrigate the cooked greens over night they have a better flavor. I freeze cooked collards and enjoy them all year.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds great, I buy country ham pieces and use that for all my beans and greens seasoning. Got any good recipes for Kale. Growing a lot of it in my spring garden and new to that green. figured to cook it like cabbage.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I clean, then boil the greens for about 15 min, rinse well. Then I put greens in pot , add chicken broth and salt pork and pinch of sugar. Pre-boiling takes most of bitter taste away,Use pepper vinegar as needed.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lost me at the garlic and the hot sauce and a Cajun seasoning they don't need angreens a little bit of water pork bacon grease little bit of salt in a pinch of sugar nothing else.but like you said it's not set in stone so everybody has their own taste

    ReplyDelete
  16. When I was growing up we cooked our collard greens until tender...then drained off the liquid, chopped them up, put in an iron skillet with fat back grease salt and pepper to taste and finish cooking. We served home pickled peppers in vinegar (at meal time) so each person can add their own...and of course sweet tea and fried cornbread...I still cook collards the same way, but now instead of fat back grease, I use corn oil and they taste just as wonderful! I cook Turnip Greens and Mustard Greens (together) the same way, but once in a while I will leave the greens in the pot with the liquid (known as pot licker) and add some homemade cornbread dumplings ...OH my...I wish I had some right now!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lov 'em all mixed with cut up turnips & any bacon grease or ham .Lov the recipes & all.TY

    ReplyDelete