I have never liked collard greens, but I felt like I needed to serve them on New Year’s Day. I’m superstitious, and I didn’t want to do anything to risk the good luck that a meal of black-eyed peas and collard greens allegedly brings.
I cooked my Hoppin’ John early in the day, but I procrastinated on the greens. Shortly before the party, I did a quick Google search to learn how to cook them, and I panicked. Paula Deen’s recipe was one of the first hits—it called for cooking them two hours. So did a bunch of other recipes. I didn’t have that kind of time, and besides, what were these people thinking? Two hours? How can any vegetable cooked that long taste good?
As you may know, my Fly Sky High Kale Salad has been a huge hit lately, and I’m sure that part of the success of that recipe comes from cutting the green into a chiffonade. The leaf of the collard green appeared similar to that of the kale, so I figured that long thin strips would be a good place to start. Also, I was sure it would help them cook faster.
I’ve found that with the kale, the less it is cooked, the better it tastes, and I suspected this might be true of the collards, too. But I had never previously prepared collards, and I became concerned that there might be a reason they needed to be cooked two hours. Maybe there was a naturally occurring chemical compound that had to be sweated out (the way manioc must be soaked then cooked to make a delicious farofa to garnish feijoada). Maybe they were indigestible unless stewed for an ungodly amount of time. Maybe they were poisonous unless prepared properly, like blowfish, I thought. So I Googled “raw collard green salad,” saw a bunch of recipes, and concluded that I didn’t need to worry. A quick sauté was the answer.
In a nod to the South, though, I cooked the greens in bacon. And it was just my luck that they turned out delicious. Santa Maria called them “a revelation.”
Heretical Collard Greens
- 1 strip of smoked bacon, diced
- 1 head collard greens, washed and cut into a chiffonade
Heat a large frying pan and render the bacon until it is crispy.
Toss in the greens and stir around a bit on high heat until they taste good. Not long, just a few minutes.