True Confession: This is not an actual “Wild Wednesday.” I bought these collard greens from our local Publix, which saved a lot of time chopping and washing homegrown greens! However, with the weather turning cooler, I’m hoping we can get a few beds of collards in the ground soon, to harvest later this fall and winter. We’ve sure had collard greens on the brain lately, and have even enjoyed leftovers for breakfast (served over grits and under a fried egg) and as a “football night” appetizer (loved this recipe for Warm Collard Cheddar Bacon Dip from Lauren’s Latest).
Like turnip greens and mustard greens, collard greens are a staple Southern crop found as a side in just about every meat-and-three and barbecue joint south of the Mason-Dixon line. These nutritious greens are tough and bitter raw, but proper cooking yields a whole “mess o’ greens” that are delightfully tender, swimming in a greenish-gold tasty “potlikker”. In fact, this delicious potlikker is so well-loved, that in 1982, then-George Lieutenant State Governor, Zell Miller, wrote in to The New York Times, in response to the newspaper’s reference to “pot liquor”:
“I always thought The New York Times knew everything, but obviously your editor knows as little about spelling as he or she does about Appalachian cooking and soul food. Only a culinarily-illiterate damnyankee (one word) who can’t tell the difference between beans and greens would call the liquid left in the pot after cooking greens ‘pot liquor’ (two words) instead of ‘potlikker’ (one word) as yours did. And don’t cite Webster as a defense because he didn’t know any better either.”
That’s right. Don’t mess with the potlikker.
There is some heated debate about how to cook great collards, but we prefer a simple method that relies on chicken broth, bacon, and just a hint of sugar. Hopefully the Lieutenant Governor would approve.
2 bags of prewashed collard greens
2 large (32-ounce) containers chicken broth
1-2 slices bacon
Sugar to taste
1. Lightly fry bacon in a large stockpot over medium-high heat until just barely golden-brown.
2. Add chicken broth to stockpot, then add 1/2 gallon of water to stockpot and bring to a boil.
3. Add collards to stockpot, and return to a boil and cook for two minutes.
4. Add a few teaspoons of sugar.
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for at least 3 hours.
Keep an eye on the liquid level in the stockpot to make sure it doesn’t cook down so much that the collards burn. You can add additional sugar later, to taste.