Sam Sifton's Braised Collard Greens


[Photograph: Kate Williams]

Despite my Southern heritage, I have never once eaten collards on Thanksgiving (I blame all those over-seasoned and over-cooked bowls of sludgy greens served at family reunions). After cooking up Sam Sifton's Braised Collard Greens, however, I may reconsider.

The greens are shredded then steamed briefly in a potent elixir of bacon fat, butter, and a bottle of beer. Once tender, they cook for only a few minutes to evaporate most of the beer from the pot, and are then tossed with a brightening dash of red wine vinegar. I knew going into the recipe that the bacon and butter would taste great with the greens, but the beer was a total surprise. Its beer-ness dissipates during cooking, leaving only malty sweetness and just a hint of fermented grain to the greens. It was this extra level of complexity that made these greens my favorite side of the season.

Why I picked this recipe: Curious about what beer could bring to the table, I couldn't pass up on this quick and easy green side.

What worked: Bacon, butter, and beer should always grace greens, collards or otherwise.

What didn't: I needed a couple extra minutes to cook off the beer once the greens were steamed, but the collards didn't suffer one bit.

Suggested tweaks: You could absolutely substitute kale or mustard greens here, but I'd steer clear of more tender greens like chard or spinach.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies (each) of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well and The Epicurious Cookbook to give away this week.