We’ve reached the point in winter where our CSA box consists primarily of oranges and braising greens. Though I am an ardent lover of vegetables, I just can’t do braised greens. Especially mustard greens. And mizuna. Peppery, bitter and pungent, I quickly eat my portion trying not to taste them, like a kid who has to clear their plate before they’re allowed dessert. Braised greens don’t seem to phase Jordan, and as I pitifully shove greens into my face without stopping to take a breath, he just stares. If you stop shoveling or let them cool, that’s when you can really taste them.
But, these particular collard greens, they are something else. We first had great collards when our friend Billy brought them over for dinner, along with a Velveeta mac and cheese, which was also heaven and I still think about on the regular. His collards featured a smoked turkey leg and I’m not sure what else, but it was transformative. Smoked meat and collard greens are meant to be together, and that night I learned there was a braised green I could get behind.
Silky and bacony, these collards are the essence of comfort, not the least bit abrasive like those pesky mustards. Jordan has been making these every other week or so and I imagine that will continue until we stop getting them in our farm box. A word to the wise, do not add collard greens into a smoothie. That was a mistake.
Braised Collard Greens
3 slices of bacon, cut into lardon (a smoked turkey leg or ham hock also do just fine)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 large bunch collard greens, cut into 2 inch pieces, stems included
salt and fresh pepper
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, cook the bacon to render out its fat. Once the fat has rendered, remove the bacon and set aside. Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic and let sweat for 5-10 minutes. Then add the collards and cook until they start to wilt. Add the bacon back in, along with the broth, chili flake, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve over rice or grits.