Sunday, April 10, 2005

Secrets of Successful Southern Collards

Few vegetables contain more nutrients than collards. My momma grew up on a Southern farm during the Great Depression, and this is how they cooked them -- and talked -- back then. -- D.H.

Cut three or four quarter-inch slices of salt pork fatback (streak o' lean, streak o' fat) and cook like bacon in a big pot to generate enough drippings to coat the bottom well. When they are really browned take out one or two sample slices, munch like bacon and leave the rest in the pot. Yum!

Collard leafStrip a mess of collard leaves from their stems and rinse as you put them in the pot with the fatback grease, er, flavoring. One stalk will fill a large pot. Add one teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper (preferred) or dried crushed red pepper flakes (don't overdo it) and about a quarter cup of water, or better, chicken broth. (I use Better-Than-Bouillon Chicken Base which keeps for a long time in the fridge.)

Cook at a very slow boil, stirring and mixing often until collard leaves are wilted al dente, around 30 minutes, adding a little broth if needed to prevent burning. You don't want the collards floating in liquid, just sitting in it. The collards are cooked when you can smell them two farms away.

One mess of collards makes four average servings, twelve servings if the diners are Yankees, and only one-and-a-half if feeding a Southerner. Serve demi-tasses of pot liquor for dessert.

Note: If you're not used to Southern Cooking you could -- and probably should -- cut the salt, pepper and cayenne in half, depending on the size of the collards stalk.

I was kidding about the demi-tasses, but you'd certainly want to sop up the pot likker in your plate with a piece of corn pone.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked collard greens)

Calories 56
Protein 1 gram
Dietary fiber 2.9 grams
Carbohydrates 2.5 mg
Dietary fiber 0.4 mg
Calcium 74 mg
Vitamin A 2,109 IU
Vitamin C 9 mg

-- 'Joi de la Cuisine' Dalton Hammond

No comments: