Why It Works
- Simmering the ham hocks until the meat falls off the bones creates a deeply flavorful broth.
- Chicken stock adds even more flavor.
Braised collards in rich pot likker (pot liquor), simmered with smoked pork and onions until everything is meltingly tender, is a classic Southern dish. Don't discard those braising juices, either—sip, slurp, or sop them up.
- 1 1/2 pounds (680g) meaty smoked ham hocks (see note)
- 2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound; 450g), sliced into 2-inch lengths
- 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 quarts (1.9L) homemade chicken stock, low-sodium store-bought chicken broth, or water
- 3 pounds (1.3kg) collard greens, woody stems trimmed and leaves cut into thick ribbons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Apple cider vinegar, to taste (optional)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine ham hocks, onions, garlic, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until hocks are very tender, 2 to 3 hours.
Remove ham hocks from liquid, transfer to a cutting board, and pull bones from meaty and fatty parts. Discard bones. Chop up meat into chunks and return it to pot.
Add collard greens, pressing down to submerge in liquid. Return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until collards are very tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar to taste, if desired, then serve. (You can add vinegar to the pot, or let individual diners season their greens with it at the table.)
You can swap out the ham hocks for other smoked or cured pork products, like slab bacon or salt pork, as long as they aren't lean meats, like smoked pork loin. Lean meat will dry up and toughen with extended cooking.