The four-pepper collards in Matt and Ted Lee's new cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, was inspired by the peppery taste of the plant's budding tips. A plethora of greens are stewed with a piquant mix of red jalapeño, poblano, smoked paprika, and a generous grind of pepper. Cooked for the better part of an hour, the greens develop a supple, tender texture with a pleasant undercurrent of heat.
Why I picked this recipe: Long-stewed collards are a Southern classic, and the Lee brothers' fiery use of peppers was an intriguing twist.
What worked: A gentle braise is the perfect way to cook collards to tenderness; the additional peppers were a bonus.
What didn't: I thought the greens could have used a bit more salt and vinegar, but that's an easy table-side remedy.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find red jalapeños, you can use green ones instead; just add a bit of red bell pepper for color. You can substitute another hearty green, such as curly kale or mustard greens, in place of the collards, or even give the dish a twist by cooking them all together. The recipe yields quite a bit of food, so if you're not cooking for a big party, you might want to cut it in half.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.