Sam Sifton's Braised Collard Greens

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.

Reproduced by permission of Sam Sifton, author of Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author or publisher, Random House.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 25 minutes
  • Total time:25 minutes


  • 1 large bunch collard greens, stemmed, the leaves rolled together and chopped into ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 thick slices of bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 bottle beer — amber or darker
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


  1. 1.

    Heat butter in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat until it foams. Add bacon and sauté until it starts to brown.

  2. 2.

    Add collards to the pan, turn the heat to high, and add the beer. Use a spoon to toss the greens in the fat and beer, then cover and cook for approximately 7 to 10 minutes, until greens are soft and wilted. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated, another 3 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and peppers, add vinegar and toss to combine.