Saturday, September 26, 2015

Collard Greens with Bacon

I was introduced to collard greens in North Carolina at the Midnight Diner which has become a have to - Nothing fancy - Just down home southern cooking.  My husband enjoyed the collard greens so much  that he asked me to recreate it.

Easier said than done.  As you probably guessed by now. I had no idea as to how to cook collard greens, but felt the need to learn. So I did some research and discovered that everyone has their own recipe. However, none of them added brown sugar or cider vinegar. Why do I find that interesting... because of this comment from Sailshonan left on the allrecipes site for Kickin Collard Greens which motivated me to tweak the recipe and include those two missing ingredients and I gotta admit... it's dang delish!

Ahhh greens. My favorite are mustards, but they are difficult to find. My cooking background is eclectic. My mother moved to Florida from Japan when she was 28 yrs old. Japanese don't really own ovens so American food and grocery stores were fairly intimidating. Our African-American maid taught her how to cook American food, and by American food I mean traditional Southern soul food. So growing up, I always had a side of rice and soy sauce with my fried gizzard. I have never wanted to cook greens because my mom makes such excellent greens that I don't think I can compare. I remember my mother telling a bunch of African-American co-workers that she made excellent greens and they handily dismissed this 5 ft tall Japanese woman as delusional. Until they had her greens and then begged her to make them at every work pot-luck. There are some changes I made to this recipe according to my mom's recipe. Firstly, you must add brown sugar. This masks the bitterness of the greens. A splash of apple cider vinegar helps too. You've gotta increase the bacon in this recipe. Please. Three slices? Try 8 or more. Cook for a few hours. The longer, the better, but make sure your bacon doesn't start disintegrating. Cook the onion and garlic in the bacon grease and nix the oil. Bacon grease makes everything taste better. And lastly, the weird secret from Mom: These can be made in a rice cooker without the inner rice container, it will boil the broth and then keep it simmering.

All I can say after reading that comment is; thank you Sailshonan. Now a Chinese/Hawaiian in Oregon can make amazing collards too!

I couldn't get myself to up the bacon to 8 or more slices.  So I compromised and went with 6 :) the trick was the addition of brown sugar and cider vinegar. It gave the bitter greens a nice balanced flavor.

My husband gave the greens a thumbs up and asked for a repeat.

Collard Greens with Bacon
6 slices bacon, cut into strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1-14.5oz. can chicken broth
1 bunch collard greens, middle stems removed and cut into 2" pieces

Cook bacon in a med. sized pot over med-high heat until crispy.  Add onions and garlic and cook until tender.  Add brown sugar, cider vinegar, salt & pepper; stir to mix.  Place collard greens in the pot and chicken broth.  Cover and turn down heat to a simmer.  Once the greens have wilted (about 5 min.) Stir to mix and let cook for an additional 40 min. or until greens are tender.

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