If you’ve been served a pile of green mush that tastes strongly of sulfur, you may be wondering how anyone eats collards. But collards can be sweet and tender, if you don’t cook them into oblivion. So don’t cross them off your list; just try a different preparation.
Collards are excellent after a few winter frosts. The natural sugars are concentrated in the leaves, making them extra tasty. Be sure to remove the fibrous stems from the leaves when preparing them. This is easily done by hand. Grasp the cut end of the stem in one hand. Using your other hand, grasp the same end of the stem between your fingers and pull the stem through your fingers. The leaf comes right off, leaving the tough stem behind. No knife needed! To shred, try a chiffonade. Stack and roll the leaves, then slice perpendicular to the roll. – Paige Luck
A Southern Stack
Cooking time: 30 min
1 tablespoon butter
½ c. country ham, 2 oz., diced
1 small onion, chopped
½ large bunch collards, de-stemmed and shredded
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped pickled red pepper or chow chow
Store-bought sweet cornbread or cornbread pancake
Place one large square of cornbread on each plate.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to 12-inch non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Once melted, add onion and ham. Cook for 2 min while stirring. Add collards to pan. Use tongs to rotate the collards top to bottom, incorporating the ham and onions. Sauté until wilted. Add water to pan and cover. Steam for 2 min. Remove lid. Add black pepper and apple cider, stirring to combine. Put collards in a bowl and cover to keep warm. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
Reduce heat to medium low. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the cleaned pan. Once melted, crack eggs directly into pan. Cook until most of the white is set. Flip eggs, if desired. Remove from heat.
Place a generous helping of collards on top of the cornbread. Top with one egg. Sprinkle with chopped red pepper or a spoonful of chow chow.
Paige Luck is a food scientist at North Carolina State University with 15 years of research and teaching experience. Her passion for cooking, chemistry and feeding people lead her to create a culinary science class at NCSU, a bit like Alton Brown’s show Good Eats, but with tests. Recipe development happens in her kitchen, and she is excited to share that with others.