A true “Sountern Fan:” COLLARDS!February 21, 2013
If you’re not from the South and you first take a whiff of collards simmering on the stove, you might never eat them. But if you’re from the deep South, that smell is as familiar as perfume is to a French lady. There’s nothing quite like it; and collards wafting from the kitchen can send some into ecstacy.
Collard greens come from the cabbage family and have a similar nutrition palate to kale. They are the most nutritious from January to spring, so if you’re thinking of trying out the recipe below, now is the time to gather your “fan.”
There's nothing "new" about collards. The ancient Greeks knew a good thing when they saw it and were only too happy to throw (as the Southerners came to call it) "a mess o' greens" (collards) in a pot of boiling water and serve them to the wealthiest guest. The Romans cultivated collards before the Christian era and, it is said, even introduced the vegetable to Britain and France before the 4th century B.C.
But it wasn’t until African slaves came to the Southern colonies that these rather chewy and indelicate-smelling greens became a household staple. Southern cooks boiled their collards with ham hocks, pig’s feet, and sometimes added an array of onions and herbs. In recent times, with people more health conscious, Southerners would use turkey meat in place of ham; but to many, that salty brine just made the collards “sweeter.” Today, beside blackeyed peas, grits and cornbread, the simmered collards take their rightful place in human history. People around the world embrace the collard.
We at GreenAcres love our greens. The greener the better. Our green smoothie and lemony green drink both have kale, spinach and often green apples or avocados. Collards, on the other hand, we prefer to cook.
Midwesterners and Southerners alike associate blackeyed peas and collard greens with good luck and great fortune. So it’s not unusual to see people preparing both these vegetables for their families on New Year’s Day. Some have even taken up the tradition of hanging a collard leaf over their front doors to ward off evil spirits; and turn-of -the-century “believers” would put a fresh leaf on their forehead to cure a headache.
We have no idea if that truly is a viable migraine remedy, as we prefer to simply eat our collards, but if you know any other fun facts or interesting traditions associated with these “fan-filled greens,” let us know.
In the meantime, we proffer this recipe from Food Network cook, Guy Fieri for Spicy Collard Greens:
2 pounds collard greens, rinsed
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup 1/4-inch diced salt pork
1 cup diced onion
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, plus more for serving (recommended: Crystal)
Cut off and discard the tough stems and discolored leaves from the greens. Cut across the leaves into 2-inch ribbons.
In a large stock pot, over medium-high heat, add the canola oil and the diced salt pork, and cook until light golden brown and just crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and let cool.
Add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes, then add the red chili flakes, black pepper, and the collard greens.
Stir every few minutes, or until greens have wilted down. Add the chicken stock and the water and cover. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, then remove the lid, increase the heat to high, and add the vinegar and a teaspoon of hot sauce. Adjust the seasoning, if needed, then put it into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the salt pork and serve with additional hot pepper sauce on the side.
A 2009 piece in the New York Times gives several ways to cook collards and still retain their nutritional value: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/cooking-with-collard-greens/
Eat your greens…mother says!September 27, 2012
All these little “adultisms” handed down from generation to generation. Where do they come from and do they have merit? Well, greens it seems hold a wealth of nutrition in some very large leafy, almost plant-like leaves that embody a whole subculture of eating. There are collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, chard, kale. It’s endless, the variety of greens you can buy and eat.
We in the middle of the United States may not have grown up with greens. Spinach, maybe, but never collard greens, unless you came from a Southern heritage. The Midwest, to this point, has always been meat and potatoes, “pass the butter, please, and don’t forget the bread.” In recent years, words like “all natural” and “organic” and “healthier” have crept into our vocabulary and our society bringing a whole array of “new” fruits and vegetables and recipes to go with them.
Collards have always been part of the Southern tradition; but did you know they actually date to prehistoric times and were well regarded even then as staples in the family larder and believed, as we confirm today, to be chock full of vitamins, minerals and to contain a sort of healing property to ward off disease?
Greens originated in the eastern Mediterranean, but it wasn’t until the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, VA in the 1600s that America got its first taste of the often bitter dark green leaves. History tells us greens were among the limited vegetables black slaves were allowed to cook on their plots connected to the plantations. Over time, the smell of cooked collards became all too familiar. Today, Southern whites and blacks alike prepare a “good luck” New Year’s dish of simmering greens, ham hocks and black eyed peas, and just the smell of that good luck charm boiling in broth sends the Southern mouth watering.
In the deep South, a large amount of greens served to the family is commonly called “a mess o’ greens.” The traditional way to cook them is to boil or simmer them slowly with salt pork or ham hock to soften up the leaves so they’re not so chewy. Southern families serve up big slabs of corn bread to go with them, and it’s not uncommon to see the men in the family pour hot sauce on their greens to give them more flavor.
It’s been recorded that, “Though greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as "pot likker") is of African origin. Pot likker is quite nutritious and delicious, and contributes to the comfort-food aspects of the dish.”
When the slaves were emancipated in the 1800s, they took with them long years of cooking skills and recipes, and today, in the 21st century, many a young cook is just discovering what Southerners and Africans knew for years, “there’s a powerful nutrition in those greens.” And, it behooves us all to take note.
At GreenAcres, we incorporate organic greens into lots of our daily menus. Spinach, chard and kale are our favorites, but almost every variety of the green family is finding its way into green drinks and smoothies. The adventuresome find that drinking their salad through a straw is the best and fastest way to build energy and to get live nutrition into their systems.
So how do you cook greens? Here are two recipes from the Food Network to get you started:
Brown 4 slices diced bacon in a pot; drain on paper towels. Add 1 cup diced onion to the pot and cook 3 minutes. Add 1 pound collard greens, 1 cup chicken broth and water to cover; simmer 20 minutes. Stir in the bacon; mound with a couple dollops of butter; salt and pepper. Serve.
Spicy Collards and Pork
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 bunch collard greens - rinsed, trimmed and chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 (6 ounce) smoked pork chop, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
- 1 (12 fluid ounce) can beer
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and fry until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain off excess fat. Add the onion; cook and stir until slightly browned. Add the pork chop, and season with cayenne pepper. Cook until pork is browned.
- Add the collard greens, and pour in the chicken broth and beer. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until collards are tender. Crumble bacon on top, and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Kansas-and-Missouri-grown Farmer’s Market Kicks Off Thursday!April 30, 2012
Come on down to the GreenAcres weekly Farmers Market! We’re kicking off the spring season and firing up the grill in the Briarcliff parking lot this coming Thursday from 3-7p.m. On the menu this year, in addition to our much-in-demand buffalo burgers, will be grilled all-natural Greek lamb burgers. And, for our Vegetarian friends, moist and succulent Portobello mushroom burgers. Missouri and Kansas farmers will be out in full force presenting their 100 percent organic produce in addition to the yummiest jams, jellies and homemade baked goods.
You’re sure to hear us before you actually see us--we’ll have live music on the sidewalk. Park where you can and make your rounds to sample some of the best home-grown products anywhere. Of course, we’re prejudice, but we love our farmer-vendors. There’s a woman who cans her own mustards; a man who makes homemade pastas; a berry vendor who has fresh blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. Like a little spice in your life? Check out the authentic Mexican tamales and salsas--yummm. We can never forget man’s best friend. Furry Friend’s dog treats will have something special you can take home to Fido! Oh, and Jerry’s Furniture will once again have handcrafted furniture for sale.
When you’re tired of all the seeing, visiting and buying outside, step inside GreenAcres for some samplings of our own products: cheese and crackers, organic chips and dips…and to wash it all down, tastings from our wine collection. There will be other product demonstrations, and as always, the GreenAcres knowledgeable staff will be on deck to answer any and all questions about wholesome, healthy living. Welcome to spring!