Southern-Style Collard Greens slowly simmered in a smoky meat broth is a classic dish that few vegetarian versions can imitate. Although, those vegetable recreations have a few savory results. That pot of collard greens braised in a miso broth is simply delicious. A family friend simmered collard greens in vegetable stock, green bell peppers and portabella mushrooms. The raw taste of Brazilian collard greens is truly appreciated when they’re quickly stir-fried to a crisp. Another recipe that exalts the green’s raw taste comes from the Mediterranean, for the greens are blanched 20 minutes before being drenched in cold water. The excess water is squeezed out of the greens before they’re drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, a dash balsamic vinegar, salt and fresh black pepper. Some vegetarians insist that artificially flavored, high sodium meat flavorings make a splendidly tasty dish of Southern-Style collard greens, but the use of unnatural ingredients in recipes is not of a personal and healthy taste. Turkey bacon became a meatier alternative when finding turkey meat from an ethical, small farm was difficult. After a few years of experimenting with different collard green recipes, I stumbled upon a booth at a farmer’s market that sold free-range turkey meat, including a few smoked parts for a couple dollars. Returning to the basics of making Southern-Style Collard Greens with smoked turkey meat became a decision of no regret. The following Sunday, a couple pounds of collard greens were simmered for at least an hour in a smoky turkey meat broth. The greens yielded a smoky, bit of salty, slightly acidic, and sweet tender flavor. That first forkful was slowly savored, for a classic dish was rediscovered. The original meaty dish is truly the best.
Southern-Style Collard Greens
2 to 4 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion; roughly chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves; minced
1/2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
Crushed red pepper; to taste (not too much, a pinch should be enough)
Salt and fresh black pepper; to taste
(Optional) 3 slices of Turkey bacon; roughly chopped
1 to 2 smoked turkey parts; with skin and bones, roughly chopped
2 to 4 lbs. fresh Collard Greens; rinsed and and cleaned at least 3 times, stems removed and discarded; leaves torn into large or small pieces (size of leaves is a personal preference)*
32 oz. chicken stock; low-sodium (more or less, enough to barely cover the greens)
1 to 3 dried chili peppers; to taste
1 to 4 tbsp. sugar (amount varies, depending on the natural sweetness of the collard greens)
1/4 cup red chili vinegar (more or less, for the amount varies according to personal taste)
(Optional) A dash of Red balsamic vinegar
1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. If using bacon, cook until brown and crisp. Remove bacon from the pot and set aside. In the same pot, saute onions until translucent for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the smoked turkey (including the bone) and stir until the meat is warm. Add a little chicken stock if the ingredients are dry.
2. Mix in a few handfuls collard greens until the pot is full. When the collards have cooked down, continue adding more until the pot is about a third full. Add the chicken stock, red chili vinegar, red balsamic vinegar, sugar, dried chili pepper, and the turkey bacon. Add more salt and pepper. Cover and bring greens to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat until the greens are simmering. Cook for at least one and half hours. Midway through cooking the greens, taste to adjust the seasonings and vinegar.
4. Ladle Southern-Style Collard Greens into individual bowls or plates and serve with Buttermilk Cornbread on the side. Place red chili vinegar on the side to allow guests to drizzle more onto their greens.
*Note: Shelisa of Big2Beautiful.com beautifully demonstrates the proper technique for cleaning leafy dark greens.
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