Cooking Lesson #534: Collard Greens
…from the Perspectives’ Holiday Kitchen
ow you doin’? Collard Greens are a perfect and historical side dish for the holidays. They date back to prehistoric time (yes, Fred and Wilma Flintstone used to eat them) and they’re one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. Collard Greens are also known as the tree cabbage. Some may think that Collard Greens originated in Africa but they were first served in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Collard Greens were introduced to America when the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600s. That’s when the early colonies got their first taste of the dark green, leafy vegetable. Collard Greens may even have been present at the first Thanksgiving.
Collard Greens are so nutritionally packed, it’s like putting money in your personal healthy bank. Collards are versatile and delicious, both cooked and raw, as most Southerners know. Collards are a member of the Brassica family and closely related to cabbage, kale and broccoli, and they are pretty enough to be grown as garden ornamentals.
Many culinary historians agree that the green craze in the South is supported by tastes for spring greens among Celtic and Germanic Southerners, but it was really pushed forward by people of African descent.
Brine time: 30 minutes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: at least 1 hour
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 large bunches collards, rinsed well
1/2 pound smoked ham hock or salt pork , split
1/2 cup salt, for brine (see ChefSecret below)
Buttermilk cornbread, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving
ChefSecret: Brine by soaking the leaves briefly in a salt-water brine made by adding 1/2 cup salt to enough water to cover the leaves. Brine for 30 minutes, then rinse well and drain. Ask your butcher to split the ham hock on his band saw into about 4 pieces.
Quip of the Day: “My wife planted collard greens in our kitchen… she calls them her own personal Wall-greens.”
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America and/or American Red Cross.
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©Perspectives/The Consulting Group, LLC, 2022
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