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Essentials: Collard Greens

People don’t eat collard greens often enough, probably because they just haven’t tried them—they look deceptively old-fashioned and limp, like something on offer at a depressing cafeteria or prepared by your grandmother who isn’t such a good cook. When I was a child, they definitely fell into my category why would anyone eat that, and even when I finally grew up and embraced green vegetables, I liked ‘em firm and bright—not soft, murky, and bacon-studded. I came around (was forced to, really, by boredom with the standard repertoire of Italianate sautéed greens), even to the point of wishing we could serve collards alongside the fried chicken and corn pudding at our wedding. We left them off the menu since I was worried people wouldn’t try them, but my evangelical zeal has not diminished: please make yourself a pot of collard greens.

Tender, smoky, mellow, and toothsome, long-simmered greens make a great side dish for barbecue and fried chicken, among other things, and are also good with nothing but rice. I like them at room temperature as much as I like them hot. Even after I was converted to the greens, I was skeptical about the supposed deliciousness of pot likker, their simmering liquid, which Southerners will sip straight up. Well, what a fool I was—pot likker is delicious, especially with corn bread. Even dry, disappointing corn bread shines when combined with collard greens.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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