OK, so collard greens is not the sexiest post, but it’s a delicious necessity. We eat them every New Year’s Day (there’s a whole good luck tradition that I will share as we get a little closer to the New Year – now that we know the Mayan prediction was misunderstood). I love bitter greens if they are cooked properly, and they are just so fitting with fried chicken or anything barbequed. You can easily substitute Mustard or other greens in this recipe. You can also substitute a ham hock or smoked turkey wing, but I am partial to the turkey leg because I add some of the shredded meat to the greens. It seems that turkey legs are usually sold in pairs – which makes sense since a turkey would naturally have two. Because of this, I usually keep one in my freezer (or, rather, in one of my three freezers). If you find yourself in a home invasion situation or any other threatening situation in which you are in need of a good weapon to clock someone over the head (I think the lamp is awkward), don’t underestimate the potential of the frozen turkey leg. Hopefully, the only good use you will be putting your frozen turkey leg to is for collard greens, but I felt the versatility of the turkey leg was noteworthy enough to point out. While you know I am an advocate of local farm market produce, most greens require a lot of washing and picking over; for this reason, I almost always buy them in the bag. However, I do still pick them over and cut out some of the thicker stems. The stems will cook down just fine and taste perfectly good, but from a presentation standpoint, I prefer not to have too many really thick stems. Cooking the greens in broth really tempers the bitterness, but you could make them vegetarian by cooking in vegetable stock and eliminating the smoked meat. Note the cook time – if you want tender greens, plan on at least 60 minutes. This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish.
- 4 Lbs. Collard Greens (or 3 bags washed, cleaned, cut)
- 1 Smoked Turkey Leg
- 1 Qt. Chicken or Turkey Broth
- 1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- Cayenne Pepper or splash of favorite hot sauce (optional)
- 2 TBS. Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)
Thoroughly rinse collard greens. Remove the stem of the larger leaves. Cut into pieces about 2″x2″. In a large stockpot, heat chicken broth over medium. Add turkey leg to broth. Working in batches, add collard greens to the pot and cover. After one batch has wilted and reduced in size, add another batch. After all greens have been added, add crushed red pepper, cover and simmer over medium heat for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, remove the turkey leg and set aside to cool. Continue cooking greens for another 15-30 minutes until very tender.Drain the greens (but not to the point of being dry) reserving a bit of the cooking liquid. After the turkey leg has cooled, strip off some of the meat and finely chop. Add the chopped turkey meat to the greens, season with salt and pepper and cayenne pepper if desired. Use reserved cooking liquid if greens are dry, or use it for reheating.