Ladies and Gentlemen. The future. It’s coming!
Once again, we’re in the lucky position of being able to make a fresh start with a brand spankin’ new year. 365 whole days to do it all right this time. Clean slate. Tabula Rasa. Square One. Woo!
And how do we celebrate? That’s right, friends — say it with me — with Collard Greens!
And what kind of friend would I be if I left you hangin without a great recipe for Collards? No kind of friend. So here it is: The best collards recipe ever. Seriously — people who swear they don’t like collards (like my Dad!) love these collards. So don’t be nervous — go for it! Make yourself a mess o’ greens (and black eyed peas, and pork!) and bring on the fortune, luck, and prosperity. Let’s kick number 13’s butt.
Oh, and don’t forget the milk punch!
Ohmygod Yum Collards
– 4 bunches of collards, long stems and tough ribs removed
– 1/4 cup brown butter (recipe included)
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– 1/2 chipotle chile en adobo, all chopped up (to taste — it’s intended to add smoky, not spicy)
– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– Pepper vinegar (recipe follows)
Wash the greens thoroughly in a whole lotta water (I fill my sink and wash them in there). Place the dripping wet leaves in a pot of water, add salt (to taste). Cook the greens for about 10 minutes (until they”re all wilted and reduced down quite a bit). Remove to a bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
Heat 1/4 cup unsalted butter on medium-low until it turns brown and nutty. Strain off the milk-fat solids. (This is something I make a big batch of ahead-of-time and keep in the fridge.) Increase the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes and chipotle, stirring occasionally until the garlic is lightly colored and onion is soft. Add the greens, their reserved cooking water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 30 minutes and taste again for salt (they can use a lot). You can continue cooking until the greens are “within an inch of their life” or you can stop here. The longer they cook, the better they”ll taste.
Serve with pepper vinegar on the side.
Recipe for Pepper Vinegar: 1 cup white vinegar + 4 oz serrano chiles. Drop the washed and dried chiles into a bottle that has been freshly washed in hot, soapy water. (A narrow neck bottle is preferable so the vinegar can be drizzled rather than poured, but it doesn”t really matter.) Bring the vinegar to a boil in a small pan, then transfer to the bottle (via a measuring cup or some other easy-pouring device). Let it sit uncapped until cool. The peppers will absorb some of the vinegar. Add more vinegar to fill the bottle, then cap and set aside in the cupboard. The vinegar will be best if you make this ahead. But you can speed the process by including one pepper sliced into “coins.” Plus, the discs look cool floating around all the whole peppers.
(Thanks to Deborah Madison for the original base recipe, and especially for the brown butter secret. You have been helping me for many years to make people’s New Years just that much luckier and fortunier.)