Mom Would Be So Proud Collard Greens

February 19, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

My mom was from the deep south - an Alabama girl - and although I was raised in Pennsylvania, we frequently saw traditional southern dishes at breakfast and dinner. Grits, okra, and collard greens. As a young girl I thought it was all pretty ghastly and couldn't understand why we couldn't have more cheeseburgers and french fries. My tastes matured through the years, but I still couldn't go near those collard greens. I belong to a farm CSA now and for 3 boxes in a row at the bottom of each box, there lay a bundled bunch of the dreaded collard greens. Each week, by the time I got to cooking them (in theory at least) they were all yellowed. Oh darn, I'd think, I guess I'll just have to throw them away. No guilt involved at all. So this week, when they showed up AGAIN, I thought OK, I need to at least give these little guys a chance. I boiled them for quite awhile in a kind of aciduated water with lemon, garlic, salt and several slices of smoked bacon. And then I tossed them in saute pan in apple cider vinegar and butter and topped them with bacon lardons and my candied garlic slices. The end result was a complete surprise to both my husband and me. We actually liked them. No, we LOVED them, and now I'm actually hoping for more collard greens in my next CSA box. My mom would be so proud. —TheWimpyVegetarian

What You'll Need
  • 1 bundle of collard greens, about 15 leaves
  • 5 slices smoked bacon, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
  • pinch sugar to sprinkle on the garlic slices
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 3 slices of the bacon, sugar, salt, and juice from the lemon to the boiling water. Smash 4 of the garlic cloves and add them to the water, reserving the rest for the candied garlic chips. Boil the water for 45 minutes.
  2. Tear the collard greens into pieces, discarding the central rib/stalk. Add them to the boiling water. Boil for another 45 minutes or until the greens are very tender. Drain well.
  3. Slice the 4 remaining garlic cloves to make the garlic chips. Lightly sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and saute the garlic until lightly browned and crispy. Remove and set aside.
  4. Cut the remaining bacon slices into thin lardons and fry in the leftover oil from sauteing the garlic chips. When lightly crispy, remove and set aside.
  5. Pour out bacon grease/olive oil retaining only about 1/2 - 1 Tablespoon in the sautee pan. Add the applecider and lightly simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the drained collard greens and toss in the cider vinegar / butter mixture to completely coat.
  6. Remove the collard greens to a serving dish and top with the bacon lardons and candied garlic chips.
  7. This is an amazing combination of flavors and textures when you eat it and can make a convert of those who are not collard greens fans.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mleconge
  • drbabs
  • AntoniaJames
  • TheWimpyVegetarian

16 Reviews

crave October 15, 2014
What do you do with serrano pepper?
TheWimpyVegetarian October 27, 2014
Really good catch, crave! I honestly don't remember - I haven't made this in awhile. I don't eat bacon anymore, and need to recreate this dish without bacon. I've eliminated the Serrano pepper until I refigure out. Thanks so much!
Geni December 30, 2012 continue my comment (must have hit "enter" by mistake; still dealing with my new Mac Pro with which I have a love/hate relationship.) I'll also try microwaving the greens in the future and will add more vinegar for the final sauce. Didn't make candied garlic, but will try next time. Crumbled bacon on top especially yummy. Thanks for sharing your recipe.....I had collards beginning to wilt in the fridge!
Geni December 30, 2012
I just finished thoroughly enjoying a large bowl of these collards all by myself because DH still thinks even the smell is terrible! I grew up in Virginia and my mom cooked a pot of greens (which meant a mixture of kale, mustard and collards) with a bit of "streak-o-lean"(a leaner version of fatback). Because wethen ate them with lots of vinegar so this sounded
Jill P. November 11, 2012
This would work with our Thanksgiving menu but we're having 15 at table... I need help converting to such a large number. How do I adjust from 2 to 15? Is this possible? Thanks!
TheWimpyVegetarian November 11, 2012
Definitely possible!! Let me do some figuring here and send you a message tomorrow on how I would approach it. Shouldn't be difficult to do :-)
ody June 15, 2010
The lemon and cider vinegar sound like great flavors to add---what does the acid in the water do?

Similar to the microwaving suggestion, I like to steam collard greens, and then cook them another ~10 minutes in the sauce (vinegar-based, not unlike yours). The steaming saves time, and also makes them tender and keeps them a little brighter-colored.
TheWimpyVegetarian June 16, 2010
When I'm cooking something bitter like some greens or artichokes, I like to simmer them in aciduated water to cut some of the bitterness. It only makes sense if you're going to simmer the veg for awhile. The smokey bacon is there to add flavor. I'm still experimenting with collards and want to try your steaming method too. Thanks!
City S. June 15, 2010
This looks great. We are in the midst of CSA greens overload, and I'm hunting down new and different ways to make them. I don't have collard greens specifically, but a varity of braising greens. I plan on trying it soon.
TheWimpyVegetarian June 16, 2010
I know the feeling - I got 2 different CSA boxes yesterday and my frig is FULL! Lots of experiments in my near future now too.
mleconge February 20, 2010
I recently put the collard greens in the microwave rather than boiling (not following your exact recipe - I have to use more garlic) and found that to be a nice, quick substitute, especially on a busy week day. It did go back in the pan with bacon, apple cider vinegar, and some garlic, which made it very delicious. Even my kids liked it - and they ate the leftovers the next day.
TheWimpyVegetarian February 20, 2010
Thanks for the tip on microwaving! I don't always have the luxory of time to be able to make them this way. I'll try it that way next time - thanks!
drbabs February 20, 2010
I'm from the South, too, and I've always loved collard greens--this sounds really good (although a little heavy on the garlic for my taste--I love garlic but it hates me!)
TheWimpyVegetarian February 20, 2010
I think you could easily make this without the garlic and not have to make any other adjustments. You would still get a great blend of collard greens, smoky bacon, apple cider vinegar with some butter to soften the vinegar.
AntoniaJames February 20, 2010
The cider vinegar is a good choice here. I'm going to try this recipe soon! ;o)
TheWimpyVegetarian February 20, 2010
Thanks! The cider vinegar made all the difference, and I really liked having a little butter to soften the vinegar just a little. Hope you enjoy it!