Monday, March 25, 2013

Creamed Collard Greens with Bacon, Crispy Shallots, & Parmesan Cream Sauce

Creamed Collard Greens with Bacon, Crispy Shallots, & Parmesan Cream Sauce
Easter is this weekend, and I'm sure some of you have already ordered y'all's Honey Baked Ham or bought a whole bunch of colorful plastic eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt. Between the cute pastel colors, a fluffy bunny, and dressing up in your Sunday's best, it is obvious that this is a big holiday in the South. And it doesn't hurt that Easter has the best candy, there's no debating that. We never had the same meal for Easter each year, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it was always rotating between classic comfort food dishes and things we were just craving. However, there was always a glazed ham and a homemade carrot cake. And now, I'll add the Creamed Collard Greens to the list... similar to creamed spinach, just with a Southern twist. I whipped up my recipe for my favorite collard greens that are cooked with smoked ham hocks, aromatics, and some spice. Certainly you could just make those and any family would be happy. But, how can you say no to a side dish that is effortlessly comforting and creamy... then topped with bacon and my ultimate favorite, crispy shallots. Crispy shallots make the world go round, get on board. When in doubt, add shallots, that have been crispified. The whole dish is brought together with delightful cream sauce that is loaded with parmesan cheese. I baked the creamed collards in a dish until they were hot and bubbly, then all you have to do is just throw the shallots on top, and serve it on up. Don't discriminate with these creamy collards either, these would be a hit at the Thanksgiving table. So go on y'all, make this side dish because we know they are wayyyyyy better than boring 'ole creamed spinach!! Enjoy :)
crispy shallots are the key to side dish success.
For the Southern Style Collards:
2lbs Chopped Collard Greens (cut into ½inch strips)
4 Smoked Ham Hocks
Chicken Stock, To Cover (I used about 1-2 Quarts)
Sea Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper, & Sugar, To Taste
1C Sweet Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3T Hot Sauce
2T Pepper Vinegar
1T Soy Sauce + 1T Worcestershire
2T Reserved Bacon Fat
2T Grainy Mustard + Chicken Base
Red Pepper Flakes, Optional

For the Creamed Collards:
Prepared Cooked Collards (with leftover shredded ham from the cooked hocks)
5 Strips of Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cut into Lardons
1 Shallot, Minced
3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
3T Bacon Fat or Melted Butter
3T AP Flour
1t Paprika
½t Cayenne, White Pepper, & Onion Powder
2C Whole Milk + 2C Heavy Cream
1C Parmesan, Freshly Grated 
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

For the Crispy Shallots:
4 Large Shallots, Thinly Sliced
½C Buttermilk + 2T Hot Sauce
AP Flour, For Coating
Vegetable Oil, For Frying

1. For the Southern Style Collards: Slash the four ham hocks lightly with a knife. Put in a large stockpot and cover them with chicken stock, plus about an inch. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, onion, garlic, hot sauce, and pepper vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour. While the ham hocks are simmering, strip, wash, drain and chop the collards and set aside. Once it has reduced, remove the ham hocks from the liquid onto a large cutting board. Shred the ham meat off of the bones and placing it into a bowl (be careful to make sure you disregard any fat pieces or bone). Next, add the collard greens, bacon fat, soy sauce, Worcestershire, grainy mustard, and chicken base. Cook the greens down, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes if you like them firmer; 1-1/2 to 2 hours, if you like them more cooked down, stirring occasionally. Taste, season with additional salt and pepper as needed; sprinkle with dried pepper flakes, if desired. Now, strain the collards from their cooking liquid and place them into the bowl with the ham pieces. Stir together to combine. Set aside while you make the cream sauce.
2. For the Creamed Collards: Heat a little bit of oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain and set it aside. Drain all but 3 tablespoons bacon drippings from pot, adding butter if needed to measure 3 tablespoons Add the minced shallots and bacon, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add flour and paprika; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream; bring to a boil, whisking often. Mix in the Parmesan cheese. Stir in greens and ham; reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring often, until greens are tender and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the crispy bacon lardons. Season to taste with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with crispy shallots (and some extra bacon if you like).
3. For the Crispy Shallots:In a mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce until combined. Add in the thinly shaved shallots and toss them in the spicy milk mixture until they are thoroughly covered. Let these onions soak for roughly an hour. When you are ready to fry, heat some vegetable oil up to 350 degrees. While the oil is heating, drain the shallots from the milk, and then lightly coat them in some AP Flour, shaking well to remove any excess flour. Fry the shallots in the hot oil, in small batches, until they are crispy & golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Once cooked, strain from the oil onto a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with some salt. Repeat with the remaining shallots. After they have all been fried, top the creamed collards with the crispy shallots for an extra crispy topping!

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