The following recipe is from the July 14 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!
If you've ever had really good collard greens you know that the secret to making them lies in the pork products they're cooked with, and the general rule is the more pork used, the tastier the greens are that emerge from the pot. This recipe for Collard Greens from Mary Mac's Tea Room by John Ferrell doesn't skimp on the pork, including bacon drippings, fat back (otherwise known as salt pork), and ham hocks. There are only two additional ingredients in the recipe: water and collard greens.
The process starts by washing the greens several times to get rid of any grit that might cling to the leaves. A stock is made from the fat back and ham hocks by boiling them together for an hour, and then the collards and bacon drippings are added and left to braise for 45 minutes. Once the greens are finished I like to take out the fat back and ham hock and chop the meat into bite sized pieces instead of leaving them whole. The greens are plenty porky and just salty enough. But if you like your greens with a bit of a kick, this recipe benefits from a healthy squirt of pepper vinegar or a particularly vinegary hot sauce.
- 2 1/2 pounds collard greens, washed, stalks and stems removed, and leaves cut into 2-inch strips
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 gallons water
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 6 ounces fatback (salt pork)
- 1/3 cup bacon drippings
Wash the cut collards in cold water. Drain and repeat with the 2 tablespoons salt added. Let soak for 10 minutes. The salt will eliminate any pest that may have decided to stay on the washed greens. Drain. Repeat and wash again if needed to make sure all the grit and dirt is removed. It is not uncommon to have to wash greens multiple times to ensure that all grit/sand is removed.
Bring the 2 gallons water to a boil in a large stockpot; add the ham hock and fatback and let boil for 1 hour.
Add the collards and bacon drippings to the broth. Return to a rolling boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 to 45 minutes. Add additional water if the water starts to absorb past one-third of the original broth level.