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Good Greens

by Chef Linda Weiss

I can’t sit down with anyone and not talk about food. So, the other day as I was talking to Lillie Blevins, the subject of food came up. And, the food subject was collards.

Lillie, like me, grew up in the heart of Alabama, but lives in Charleston. We both grew up on the same kind of food, but our food came from an area that has some of the richest soil in the US.  When I think back about the taste of vegetables when I was growing up, it’s easy now to know why they had the best taste, because they grew in the richest soil.

Lillie was telling me that her mother, who still lives in Alabama, makes the best collards around. But, according to Lillie, she makes some pretty good collards, too. I thought that maybe we’d try them together.

Lillie’s Collards

1 bunch collards

10 slices good bacon

Pinch soda

1 teaspoon sugar or less, to taste

Salt to taste

Cut the large stems away from the collard leaves. Stack a few of the collard leaves together and roll them the long way. Cut the rolled collards into thin strips. Place the cut collards in salted cold water and rinse. Repeat the rinsing about 6 times until all the sand, dirt and any bugs are removed. Lay the rinsed collards in a colander or on a towel, but let the excess water stay on them.

Fry the bacon in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Remove the bacon and add a very slight pinch of soda to the bacon fat. It will sizzle and foam. This is okay. Turn the temperature to medium heat, and add the wet collards to the sizzling fat. Keep adding the collards until they’ve all been added. Lillie then adds a small amount of sugar to take the bitterness out of the collards. Then add salt. Cook over medium low heat until the collards are tender. This will take about 45 minutes. If the collards become dry, add a small amount of water or chicken broth. Salt to taste. Lillie says one bunch of collards will serve 6.

 


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