Growing up as I did, up North, my only acquaintance with greens was spinach, canned or fresh in salads. When I moved to South Carolina, one of the cultural cuisine differences I found on my plate was collard greens. I can tell you from experience, trying canned collards or even a bag of chopped fresh collards will not sway you to loving them. If the stems are included in the pot, they are either crunchy and tough, or mush from cooking for hours.
Once I learned to remove the leaves from the tough ribs and to cook them a short time, about 30-45 minutes, I developed a deep love of their earthy flavor. Chef Steven’s recipe below adds a tangy bite to the greens. If you like your greens mild just leave out the hot sauce and Cayenne chili peppers. (And, if you like your stems cooked with your greens, don’t apologize. I don’t expect you to like canned spinach the way I do!)
COLLARDS WITH A KICK Chef Steven Poots
7-8 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, sliced and slices halved
1 bunch collards, washed, pulled off the veins & ribs, and chopped
2 Cayenne Chili peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup hot sauce, I use Texas Pete
1 cup Newcastle Brown Ale Beer
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups water
Rinse/clean the collard leaves in cold water. In a large soup pot, brown bacon until crisp. Sauté garlic, onion, and chili peppers until soft. Add collards, stir, and wilt down about half in the bacon mixture. Add apple cider vinegar, Texas Pete, water, and beer. Slowly simmer on stovetop until collards are soft, about 45 minutes.
Note: I used a 2012 All America Selections Winner chili pepper, Cayennetta, from the garden.
About Steven Poots: Steven grew up in the restaurant business, working in his father’s restaurants and then working in the kitchens of upscale restaurants around South Carolina. For the last 4 years, he has worked at the Augusta National Golf Club, cooking for the players and members during the Masters Tournament. Currently, he is working full time as a culinary intern at Augusta National Golf Club.
Posted November 21, 2012
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Avid gardeners who know how to get their hands dirty tend the beautiful gardens featured in this article. Special thanks to Betty Norris & Laura Lander, Publicity Co-Chairs from the Cape Fear Garden Club, for the tour of many wonderful gardens during the Azalea Festival Garden Tour in Wilmington, North Carolina. Read more...