The collard greens were gorgeous!
And so flavorful! So, most Southerners think of slow cooked greens when they think of collards. This is definitely how they are most often cooked, and for a just reason. They cook slow in a stock that usually consists of ham hock; and the fatty, salty juices of the ham penetrate the often bitter leafy green. While I have much respect for this method of cooking collards, I try to cook and eat food that is 1) easy (and quick) to prepare, 2) can be made with things readily available in my kitchen (I don't usually have ham hocks sitting around) and 3) is healthy.
So, here is my variation. It turned out really well, and we ate our collards with smoked chicken my husband pulled off the smoker that night.
Not-So-Slow-Cooked Collard Greens
4 small cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch of collard greens, rinsed and chopped (stems removed)
1/2 c. chicken stock* (ours bought frozen from Dave's Fresh Pasta. We keep in on hand in our freezer for occasions such as this)
3-4 tbs Olive oil
In a large pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil until it begins to smoke. Add garlic and let cook until brown. Remove garlic cloves from oil, or if you prefer a stronger garlic flavor, leave the garlic in the oil.
Add chopped collard greens to the olive oil and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Next add chicken stock, stir, and cover with lid. Let cook until greens are tender, anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The longer you cook them, the more they will soak up the flavor from the chicken stock. Add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
* Real homemade chicken stock, not stock bought from a box or can in a grocery store, will add much more flavor to the greens. If you can't make or find homemade stock, you might want to add a little more to the dish, e.g. sautéed onions, cayenne pepper, or bacon.
Another way to cook collards that I haven't experimented with sounds fantastic!
Brazilian Collard Greens
1 1 /4 lb collard greens, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves halved lengthwise
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs olive oil
Stack half of collard leaves and roll into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise in very thin strips (1/16 inch wide). Repeat with remainder.
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 3/4 tsp salt. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, 30 seconds. Add collards with 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing, until just tender and bright green, 3-4 minutes.