|The Most Flavorful Braised Collard Greens|
|Homemade Pink Pickled Shallots|
For the Collard Greens:
2T Melted Bacon Fat or Unsalted Butter
1 Medium Vidalia Onion, Minced
5 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
4 Smoked Ham Hocks, Slashed (in order to pierce the outer skin for more flavor)
2Q Chicken Stock (or enough to cover the ham hocks completely; buy unsalted stock)
1-2C Water, Room Temperature
¼C Pickled Jalapeno Brine & Maple Syrup
1t Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, & Red Pepper Flakes
2T Texas Pete Hot Sauce + 2T Green Tabasco Sauce
2T Pepper Vinegar + Apple Cider Vinegar
1T Soy Sauce + 1T Worcestershire
2T Stone Ground Grainy Mustard + Chicken Base
1 Large Tomato, Diced into Small Chunks (I actually like unripe tomatoes for this recipe)
2lbs Chopped Collard Greens (cut into roughly ½inch strips)
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste (sugar can be added as well to sweeten if you like)
For the Caramelized Onions:
8 Strips of Thick-Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, Cut into Cubes or Lardons
1 Large Vidalia Onion, Thinly Sliced
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
¼C Finely Chopped Garlic
Directions:1. Preparing the Collards: Melt the butter or bacon fat in a deep pot over medium heat. Once it is hot, add in the minced onions and garlic. Sauté the veggies until they start to become translucent and caramelized (without burning them). This should take about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, using a sharp serrated knife, slash the four smoked ham hocks. This will help extract the maximum amount of flavor from the meat, fat, and bones. Now that the onions and garlic have cooked, add in the slashed ham hocks and cover with the chicken stock (at least by an inch over the hocks), water, pickled jalapeno juice, and maple syrup. Stir and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
2. For the First Cooking Portion: Next, add in the hot sauce, vinegars, soy sauce, Worcestershire, grainy mustard, chicken base, and diced tomatoes. Bring this mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer the potlikker liquid for an hour. While they reduce, make sure to strip, wash, drain, and chop the cleaned collard greens. Set them aside.
3. Shredding the Ham Hocks: After it has cooked down for the required period of time, remove the ham hocks from the liquid to a cutting board. Let them cool slightly, and then shred off any ham meat from the smoked ham hocks (discarding any fat pieces, cartilage, or bone). Place the meat into a bowl and save them to add in at the end of cooking.
4. For the Second Cooking Portion: At this time, whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Throw in the prepared collard greens, making sure to push them down with a cooking spoon, so that all of them are submerged in the potlikker. Reduce the heat to low and cook the greens down, covered, for roughly an hour to an hour and a half (60-90 minutes). Throughout the cooking process, make sure to stir them every so often, that way they will wilt evenly.
5. Tasting and Seasoning the Collards: Now that the second cooking period is finished, taste & season with additional salt, pepper, and possibly sugar as needed (or really any other ingredient that is listed in my recipe). The flavoring is purely up to your tastes! If the potlikker broth is too rich, add more water to dilute it.
6. For the Caramelized Onions & Garlic Chips: In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon pieces or lardons down until all the fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. Strain the crispy bacon onto a paper towel lined plate and leave them alone while you finish your other tasks. Add the sliced onion into the hot bacon grease (if you need more fat, you can add a little here too). Caramelize or fry the onion slices until they are just starting to turn light golden brown, but still have some texture to them. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the sautéed onions and add them into the collard green pot. With the remaining fat in the pan, reduce the pan to medium-low heat and fry the finely chopped garlic until just lightly toasted, crunchy, and fragrant. During this portion, do not leave the garlic alone; they can burn quite quickly and need to be stirred frequently. This should only take a few minutes (it all depends on their color).
7. Serving the Collards: Since all of the steps have been completed, it is now time to serve the greens for eating. Spoon the warm collards into large serving dish, making sure to include some of the potlikker liquid as well. To finish the dish, garnish the top with a sprinkle of crispy bacon lardons and fried garlic chips. These toppings give off amazing flavor, and more importantly, texture! Serve with more pepper vinegar, red pepper flakes, and cornbread for your guests at the table.