Collard Greens

04/29/2014

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What does this Iowa girl know about making collards, you ask? Not a whole lot, actually. But I was forced to learn due to a plant of mistaken identity.

We buy many of our starter plants from our local grocery store. Farmer John brings in the seedlings and small plants. He’s known for his blue ribbon winners; his plants really are tremendous! My only complaint about him, though, is that sometimes things are mislabeled. Last year there was the Romanesco I planted instead of cauliflower, and this year it happens to be collards I planted instead of broccoli. Gary and I have been waiting waiting waiting for something to sprout from the center of this dang plant, but nothing happened. Months it looked like this, all green and healthy. It wasn’t cabbage, we decided. But for the life of these two Midwesterners, we couldn’t figure it out. Until we had a friend who has lived in Florida much longer than us proclaim that we were growing collards in our garden.

Collards?!? After I learned this, and realized these crazy things were taking up prime garden real-estate, I was in the process of pulling them out and chucking them in the yard waste when Gary noticed (much to his dismay). He encouraged me to leave three of the plants, and he’d give the leaves of the ones I pulled to Bobby, a man from work. Bobby and his wife, both who grew up eating collards, declared these the “finest collards in all of Alachua County!” For which I take as the utmost compliment. (I’m sure it was probably Bobby’s wife’s recipe that made them magical–I’m trying my best to get the secret from her!)

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Ingredients:

1 bunch collard greens, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1 T bacon fat
1 onion, chopped
1 c apple cider vinegar
1-2 c water
S&P

Instructions:

Put the bacon fat in a large stock-pan, and saute the chopped onions until they’re clear (about 5 minutes). Add the liquid and put in the chopped collard greens. I like to take out the thick veins in the middle. Make sure that there’s enough water to cover all the greens. Bring to a boil and bowl for at least an hour. You can add ham or bacon afterward if you want.

Serve with a good Southern dish, like shrimp and grits like I did.

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