Want to coax the best flavor out of collard greens? Here’s how.

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How often have you had mushy, overcooked collard greens? The traditional Southern style greens are typically braised in liquid for hours, and the result is a flavorless, bland side that is devoid of nutritional content.

When I made these collard greens for the first time, it was a revelation. I ate the whole head of greens, and wanted seconds. If cooked properly, the nutrient dense greens are vibrant and not at all bitter. They’re also simple to prepare and ready in less than 15 minutes.

Here’s the recipe for Simple Brazilian Collard Greens.

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  • 1 head of collard greens, chiffonade (see attached video for how to do this and consider yourself one step closer to having refined knife skills!)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 of a tsp. of red chili flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp. Bacon fat or olive oil (bacon fat is a stable fat that isn’t nearly as bad for you as you think it is, but that’s for a different post.

1. Put a sauté pan on medium to high heat(if you have numbers from 1-9 on your stove knob, this is about a 7.5). Leave it alone for 2 minutes. Go do something. The chef’s secret is to let it heat up properly BEFORE putting in the oil or the ingredients. This is how you coax the best flavor out of the ingredient.

2. When the pan is hot, which will take at least 2 minutes, pour in the bacon fat or the olive oil. Let warm for 20-30 seconds. Stir in your collard greens. You want to hear a good sizzle. Oil may splatter a little. This is fine, and good. Let the greens cook for 30 seconds before stirring. This is how you get them to caramelize, drawing the sweetness out of the vegetable, thereby reducing the bitterness. The bacon fat helps with the bitterness as well.

3. Season with a good pinch of salt and the chili flakes. Use thongs to stir the greens. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat. When they’re still bright green and a bit wilted, they’re ready. As long as you’ve been able to maintain a reasonably high heat throughout the cooking, they’ll be perfect in 2-3 minutes. If not, cook them a little longer, and practice this technique next time. It may take a few tries for you to get it right, but it is worth it!

If you’d like, you can add a couple of cloves of minced garlic or use a few sliced of chopped, cooked bacon before adding the greens.  I’m a proponent of the simplest recipes possible, so you don’t have to use these ingredients if you don’t feel like it!

If you would like to learn how to chiffonade, here’s a short video that will show you how.



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