Collard greens are a true Southern delicacy. There is nothing better than a steaming bowl of collard greens and a thick slice of corn bread. To get great tasting collards you must follow a few simple steps.
You should begin by thoroughly washing your collard greens. Washing the collards will remove both the dirt and the bugs that can sometimes be on collards. The best way to wash them is to begin by soaking them in cool salt water. Then rinse each collard leaf under cool, running water. If the collards are extremely dirty you might need to repeat this process. After the collard greens are washed you need to cut them in small to medium size strips or pieces. Be sure to cut out the thick green spine that is in the middle of the collard leaf.
After washing and cutting the collard greens, place them in a large stock pot. You can pile the collards high in the pot as they will shrink as they cook. You should also put some type of meat into the pot for flavoring. There are many opinions as to the best type of meat to use for flavoring, but traditional flavoring meats include ham bones, fat back, bacon or hog jowls. Many people feel using meat for flavoring reduces the nutritional value of collard greens, but for a true Southern taste this is essential. In lieu you can use bouillon cubes or garlic, but flavoring meats give the best results. Next you should fill the pot with water to the top of the collards. Add salt to taste and you are ready to begin cooking the collard greens.
Bring the pot of collard greens to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Depending on the amount of collard greens you are cooking, you will want to cook the greens from 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stir several times while cooking. You want the greens to be tender, but not overcooked. Many people will add a small amount of sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons to a large pot of collards, approximately 30 minutes before the collards are ready. This can reduce the bitter taste that can occur in collard greens that are large or late in the season. You can add water as the collards are cooking if necessary. When the collard greens are done the liquid should be at the top of the collards. Be aware that a full pot of collards at the beginning of the cooking cycle will only be one-third to one-half full when the collards are done.
Once the collard greens are done they are ready to serve. Collard greens and cornbread make a delicious meal in itself. With a little bit of work and patience you can prepare this great Southern delicacy!