Gentle Readers, as you are hopefully aware by this point, The Practical Cook is deeply Southern, right down to her collard-loving roots. She is aware that not everyone shares this passion. Frankly, they can be too collardy in the wrong hands. Or for our vegetarian friends, so laden with pork products that they more closely resemble green barbecue than a vegetable. Fear not, this recipe will convert the most die-hard collard hater.
Collards No One Dares to Hate: Smoked Turkey Edition
Collards Recipe for Haters: Two Ways (Vegetarian and Omnivorous)
If you’ve never been able to eat a collard, this is the one recipe for you, vegetarians included. Thanks to the yearly Algonquin Books Holiday Party (a serious culinary event), a colleague won everyone over and shared. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled for the collard converts. Every time I make this for somebody, they say, “those don’t taste like collards.”
1 bunch collard greens
1/2 cup smoked turkey meat (wings or legs), chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (go lighter if you use very fresh pepper or are feeding a younger set)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
The 8-quart pot I use for blanching a double-recipe of collards.
2.Remove the collard stems (I cut them out). Roll up 4 or 5 leaves at a time, slicing them as you would a cheese roll or pinwheel, about 1/4 inch wide.
Step 1: Put the collard leaf flat on the cutting board.
Step 2: Using a sharp knife, slice out the collard stem.
Step 3: Repeat until you have a really large stack of fluffy, stemless collard leaves.
Step 4: Take a stack of 7 to 10 collard leaves, roll them up, and slice them into 1/4-inch strips.
3. Soak sliced collards in cold water, agitating the water like a collard laundromat, soaking thoroughly and rinsing until they’re clean.
Collards puff up when you soak them!
4. Once the water is boiling add a healthy dose of salt (at least a teaspoon), add the collards, wait until the water boils again, then turn the head down to medium and cover. Cook the collards for 20 minutes; the timing depends on how soggy you like them.
Chopping the smoked turkey, green onions, and red pepper flakes together helps meld the flavors and make the chunks more uniform.
5. While the collards are blanching, chop the turkey wings (meat only, discard the skin), the onions, the garlic, and the red pepper together. Saute the mixture in a large skillet in the olive oil over medium heat. When the collards are done, drain them and add them to the turkey mixture in the skillet. Mix together thoroughly, cover the pan, and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes at medium heat, stirring often and salting to taste.
Saute collards and taste for seasoning until they're done. The turkey adds saltiness, so taste before adding more.
Best served warm with cornbread.
VEGETARIAN COLLARDS VERSION: This delicious alternative turned out so well I’ll have to decide which version I want to make from here on out. Omit turkey and substitute 1 Parmesan rind (if you don’t save them, for the love of pete, start now, wrap ’em up for the freezer), adding it to the pan with the green onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. No need to chop it up. Add a bit of extra full-flavor olive oil at the end to finish the dish. If you don’t have a rind, grate Parmesan on at the end, but it won’t be as flavorful.
Add the Parmesan rind with the green onions, garlic, and red pepper.
The Parmesan permeates and flavors the vegetarian version of Collards for Haters Recipe.
Where do you stand in the collards war? Post a comment below! It’s a new year, time to start out with a bold stance.
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Tomorrow, Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist.