Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Cooking Collards

Collard greens have to be one of the healthiest foods we eat.
From the University Of Illinois:
"Collards are fibrous, tough, mild-flavored greens that require long cooking. Hiding under the green chlorophyll pigment is an excellent source of beta carotene and some vitamin C and calcium. The darker the leaf the more beta carotene provided. Like broccoli and cabbage, the antioxidants and phytochemicals in collards may help to reduce the risk of some forms of cancer and heart disease. Collards contain very small amounts of fat and sodium. "
Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked collard greens)
Calories 56
Protein 1 gram
Dietary fiber 2.9 grams
Carbohydrates 2.5 mg
Calcium 74 mg
Vitamin A 2,109 IU
Vitamin C 9 mg
They are also one of the easiest side dishes to make requiring little more than the ability to boil water. The basic process for cooking collard greens is to wash the greens carefully, removing all traces of dirt and sand. Tear the greens into bite size pieces. In a large pot, bring a small amount of water to boil. The amount of water depends on the amount of greens you want to cook, but generally, use as little as you can get away with.
In Florida and the rest of the south, we like to season almost everything with bacon or salt pork, especially greens. Having grown up in that tradition, collards just don't taste right to me unless they've been seasoned with some kind of cured pork. These days, I use the leanest ham I can find so that I still get that good smoky ham flavor, but without all the fat of good ol'fashioned bacon.
If you're using ham or bacon, you should cook it a little before adding the water, and then follow that with the greens. Salt and pepper to taste.
Collards are very fibrous and need to cook just long enough to become tender. This only takes 15- 20 minutes, but in my opinion, they'll taste even better if they get a chance to sit and soak in the "pot likker" for a while, so start them early.
Collards ... what could be easier, or better for you?
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Aikäne said...

Them collards look good... all they need is the cornbread and hot sauce.

I saw your link on PoP's site. Seems your family's been in Florida just a tad longer than mine - about 1820, the Panhandle.

I'm in Lakeland now, but have cousins all the way from Pensacola to Ft Myers - so wherever you are along the west coast, I reckin I got kin nearby. email: aikane47@yahoo.com

Harry said...

Those look good, but I've never taken to collards. Always seem like they've been cooked into a pile of mushy green glop. Maybe I've just never had them cooked right.

Lara said...

If you want to give collards that nice smoky flavor without adding bacon or ham, I've found that some olive oil and a couple of drops of liquid smoke do the trick nicely.

M said...

I had never had greens until I moved to Florida. Greens can be mouth-watering good or awful. You are right without that smoky flavor without it, they just fail.