I’m new to collard greens, which might seem surprising, but I intend to become quite familiar with this Southern staple now that I know it won’t take hours to make them. You can, in fact, cook collard greens in five minutes in a steamer if you choose to, but I took twenty, melting them down with a bit of beef broth after sauteing a hunk of pancetta. Chicken broth or pork broth would work just as well. Sometimes I freeze a chicken neck for the very purpose of making a cup of broth to flavor my vegetables. If you want to skip the broth you can even use plain water.
I was inspired to make collard greens when I had them with shrimp and grits cake at Gray’s on Main recently. Their collard greens were cooked a little longer and had vinegar, which fit the dish perfectly. Not all sauteed collard greens have vinegar, but I think it’s evolved, because when the greens are overcooked, they get bitter and vinegar offsets the bitterness. I like them both ways, but I left it out in this recipe. I did add a bit of pork fat in the way of pancetta, because that’s something that is usually on hand, and only takes a quick rendering to add in some flavor. This is very similar to my melted Tuscan kale.
Aside from the good taste of collard greens, the surprise to me is finding out collard greens are the super food powerhouse of all cruiciferous vegetables and rank as king for health benefits. With an ANDI score of 1000, collard greens are touted as a near miracle vegetable, lowering cholesterol, fighting cancer, hemorrhoids and colon diseases. Extremely high in Vitamin K, they aid in promoting bone mass and have been cited to aid in the fight against Alzheimers’ disease. High in Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, they serve to fight oxidative stress, the impact of exposed toxins, and possibly airborne flu germs but boosting the immune system.
We all know that greens are good for us, and this is just one more reason to incorporate them daily into our diets, but they also taste good, fill us up and serve as part of the joy of eating.
So tell me, have you ever had collard greens and how were they prepared?
Melted Collard Greens with Pancetta
- 1 bunch fresh collard greens
- 1 tablespoon olive oil you could use less
- small hunk pancetta when chopped makes 2 tablespoons
- 2 small garlic cloves minced
- 3/4 cup meat chicken or pork broth (you could use water)
- sea salt
- black pepper
- red pepper flakes to taste
- Prepare collard greens, by washing, rinsing, drying. Cut out ribs in center and then slice in ribbons.
- Fry pancetta in olive oil on medium heat, until fat is rendered.
- Add garlic, saute about a minute.
- Add in chopped greens and ¼ cup water or broth. Simmer until the water evaporates, add another ¼ cup. Kale will be braised, but still have body when done. Season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
- You could toss with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice as an option.
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