We know that spring must be near, because tender collard greens are starting to appear at our local markets. Southerner that she is, Michelle immediately began to think of collards and pork. The kind of slow-cooked, somewhat greasy goodness one finds at many “soul food” or “Southern style” restaurants, along with a cruet of vinegar to dilute the fat and give the greens a chance to surface.
But while we are a household which indeed reveres fat, even we blanched at the amount called for in Ian Knauer’s The Farm: Rustic Recipes For a Year of Incredible Food. Perhaps showing the “Pennsyltucky” part of his Allentown, PA roots, Knauer’s version called for both bacon and a ham hock, plus an entire cup of cream.
Michelle left out the hock, cut the bacon and substantially reduced the cream. Our version still seemed plenty creamy and bacon-y, perhaps because our tender, sweet young collards (thanks local farmers!) didn’t need to be buried in a pile of pig meat. And perhaps because we’re less “Southern” than we used to be.
COLLARDS WITH BACON AND CREAM
(adapted from Ian Knauer’s The Farm: Rustic Recipes For a Year of Incredible Food)
- About 2 lbs. of collard greens
- 2 slices smoked bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 large onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
- Red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 c. chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 TB brown sugar
- 1/4 c. cider vinegar
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
Remove large center stems from collards and discard. Coarsely chop leaves into approximately 1-1/2 to 2 inch squares.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until browned and crisped, stirring occasionally. Remove to a paper towel, reserving the fat in the pot.
Add onions to bacon fat along with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are beginning to caramelize. Add garlic and continue cooking, stirring more frequently, until garlic begins to color.
Add stock, brown sugar and vinegar. Then add collards, stirring until greens are slightly wilted and liquid is distributed throughout. Cover pan and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove cover, stir in cream and increase heat. Boil for about about 10 minutes, until most of liquid is evaporated.
Crumble bacon over greens before serving.