Something I learned recently: ham hocks are shockingly hard to find.
So, I did what I always do when things get a little too stressfulI took a time out in the kitchen. This time, a slow braise, forcing me to spend several hours at home, relaxing and refreshing.
The vegetable at hand: collard greens.
Of course, I must confess here: I’m a true Yank at heart. This means, among other things, my collard greens are no quite authentic, to say the least. In fact, ham hock, which I had thought was a grocery staple, eluded me. As did any type of smoked meat. Evidently, I’m not looking in the right places.
I ended up having to improvise, as I had done with my another Southern Classic that I
butchered reinvented—[Yankee] Gumbo. So, I used bacon instead, although if you have ham hock, that would be best. Ultimately, the likker was still smoky, and I still got a much needed refresh.
I’d venture to guess that, even if you’re a little more discerning than I am, these collards greens won’t disappoint. I’m tempted to try taking on fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea, too, although that seems better suited to true Southerners.
Braised Collard Greens
1 bunch collard greens, washed well
4 oz bacon
1 TBS red pepper flakes
1 TBS Tabasco
1 TBS white vinegar
8 cups water
In a large pot, saute bacon and red pepper flakes, rendering the bacon fat, about 10 minutes. Add water, and bring it to a boil along with the Tabasco and white vinegar.
In the meantime, clean off your collard greens thoroughly, removing the stems that run down the center. And tearing the leaves into 1/2 to 1″ thick slices.
Add the collard greens to the boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the greens are tender. Taste and add salt and Tabasco sauce as necessary.