Are you a fan of savory and comforting dishes? Look no further than traditional southern-style collard greens with ham hocks. This classic dish is not only perfect for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, and Sunday dinners but also fitting for a low-carb and keto-friendly diet. In this article, we’ll explore the delectable world of collard greens, discover how to clean them, and learn how to braise ham hocks to perfection.
The Nostalgia of Collard Greens
Collard greens hold a special place in many hearts, evoking memories of family gatherings, cherished traditions, and the coziness of home. For me, these greens have always been a staple, from Thanksgiving feasts to Sunday suppers. The aroma of a simmering pot filled with soul-warming collard greens is simply irresistible. My grandmother, and even my aunt Patricia, were masters at creating the most savory and hearty greens, leaving an indelible mark on my culinary journey.
The Challenge of Writing a Recipe
Writing down a recipe for collard greens was quite a challenge for me. You see, in my family, we never relied on precise measurements or written instructions when preparing this dish. We cook with intuition, following the guidance of our Ancestors and adjusting the spices as we go. The process was deeply ingrained in us, except when it came to baking, where precision is crucial due to the chemistry involved.
Cleaning Collard Greens: A Personal Approach
Cleaning collard greens is a matter of personal preference. Each cook has their own unique method, and I’ll share mine with you. After discarding any wilted or discolored leaves, I rinse off the remaining leaves in a large tub. I tear off the extended part of the stem, but some prefer to include the stems in their dish. Tightly rolling and slicing the leaves or hand-tearing them are both valid techniques. Regardless of the method, it’s important to soak the greens in lukewarm water, agitating them to release any sediment. I repeat this process several times, adding a touch of sea salt and distilled white vinegar, ensuring the greens are thoroughly cleansed.
Braise Those Ham Hocks
To elevate the flavor profile of collard greens, braising ham hocks is a must. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pot, then brown the ham hocks to add depth. Afterward, you can add sliced white onions, minced garlic cloves, fresh sage leaves, smoked paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Once the onions and garlic have cooked down, pour in chicken broth, cover the pot, and let it simmer for a couple of hours. The meat should easily separate from the bone at this stage, allowing you to shred it and return it to the pot liquor.
Adding the Greens and Final Touches
Now comes the exciting part—adding the collard greens to the pot. Don’t worry if it initially appears overflowing; the greens will gradually cook down. To enhance the flavors, add water as needed, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and bay leaves. Cover the pot and let it simmer gently for another hour and a half. Throughout the cooking process, feel free to taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your palate.
Embrace the Journey
Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a pot of mouthwatering collard greens. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving. While this recipe may not be a quick fix, it’s relatively easy and undoubtedly worth the effort. If you’re looking for alternative ways to enjoy collard greens, consider trying my vegan collard green wraps. So, gather your ingredients, follow your instincts, and embark on a culinary adventure filled with rich flavors and cherished memories.
Don’t forget to share your experience in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram or Facebook. And if you can’t make this dish right now, be sure to save it to your favorite Pinterest board for future reference.