On my recent trip to Atlanta, I got to enjoy some great food, including dinner at a southern tea room. The tea room had collard greens with bacon and onions on their menu; since my SO and I have made that dish a number of times, I had to try them to see if we were coming anything close to what the dish was "supposed" to be. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two were nearly identical. So, yesterday we cooked up another batch of collard greens at home, and they're this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.
Collard greens are somewhat bitter, but not unpleasantly so, and, well, leafy. Flavoring them with bacon, onions, and vinegar results in a savory, tangy, slightly bitter dish that goes very well with creamier foods (like mashed potatoes).
1/4 pound bacon
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed with a garlic press
2 pounds collard greens
1 teaspoon kosher salt
vinegar to taste (we use rice vinegar, though others would work)
1. Rinse the collard greens and cut out the thick central vein. Chop into 1-inch-wide strips.
2. Cut the bacon into chunks (~3/4-inch wide); this is easier to do if the bacon is at least partially frozen.
3. Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the bacon is lightly browned and the fat has mostly rendered out (at least 10 minutes, but likely more).
4. Add the onion, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have started to brown (5-10 minutes).
5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
6. If your pot can't hold all the raw collard greens at once, add them in a few batches (they cook down quickly); otherwise, add them all at once. Cook, stirring, until the greens are all coated with bacon fat and have reduced in volume.
6. Add enough water to almost cover the greens, add the salt, and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the collard greens are tender (~15 minutes; test them by tasting).
8. We like to serve the collard greens with some of the cooking liquid in each bowl; if you'd prefer drier greens, then boil off the cooking liquid before serving.
9. Serve with vinegar and salt to taste. Radagast likes to add about 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar to a bowlful; Radagast's SO sometimes doesn't even add vinegar. You can also try adding a bit of sugar.
This dish can be made with mustard greens as well, though the cooking time might vary.
This recipe is based on one from Rombauer et al. 1997.
Rombauer, I. S., M. R. Becker, and E. Becker. 1997. Joy of Cooking. Scribner, NY.