The four-pepper collards in Matt and Ted Lee's new cookbook, The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, was inspired by the peppery taste of the plant's budding tips. A plethora of greens are stewed with a piquant mix of red jalapeño, poblano, smoked paprika, and a generous grind of pepper. Cooked for the better part of an hour, the greens develop a supple, tender texture with a pleasant undercurrent of heat.
Why I picked this recipe: Long-stewed collards are a Southern classic, and the Lee brothers' fiery use of peppers was an intriguing twist.
What worked: A gentle braise is the perfect way to cook collards to tenderness; the additional peppers were a bonus.
What didn't: I thought the greens could have used a bit more salt and vinegar, but that's an easy table-side remedy.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't find red jalapeños, you can use green ones instead; just add a bit of red bell pepper for color. You can substitute another hearty green, such as curly kale or mustard greens, in place of the collards, or even give the dish a twist by cooking them all together. The recipe yields quite a bit of food, so if you're not cooking for a big party, you might want to cut it in half.
Excerpted with permission from The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, copyright 2013 by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 8
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:1 hour and 45 minutes
- 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
- 3 jalapeño peppers, preferably red, seeded and chopped
- 1 large poblano chili, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion (about 1 medium)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 4 pounds collard greens (about 3 bunches), stems trimmed, leaves rolled and sliced into 3/4-inch-thick ribbons (about 5 quarts)
Pour the oil into a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and when it shimmers, add all of the remaining ingredients except the collards. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the peppers appear dry, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the collards to the pot by handfuls, moving them around with a wooden spoon and folding them into the peppers at the bottom of the pan, until the greens appear wilted, slick, and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.
Add 6 cups of water and cover. When the liquid first begins to simmer, stir once, turn the heat to medium low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour and stir again. Serve drained, but still wet with the broth.