When I was writing holiday cards, I occasionally said something along the lines of “Hope 2006 brings you all good things.” Thanks to my fancy hieroglyphic spin, Bob said my “2006” looked like it said “ZOOb.”
For your special ZOOb wishes, I’m offering you my very favorite recipe for Collard Greens. Southern folklore (which we call “law” down here) has it that Greens, Black-Eyed Peas and Hog Jowls on New Year’s Day will bring good luck and fortune. Also note that a large quantity of greens is referred to as a mess o’ greens. Your mileage may vary. Finally, although greens are traditionally cooked with fatback (an ingredient in desperate need of some good PR. Are the marketing wizards from the “Sweetbreads” account available?) this recipe doesn’t use any meat, although you won’t miss it one bit cuz these collards are goo-ood.
Happy New Year everyone! Hope ZOOb brings you all good things, Peace included.
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- 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 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried chipotle
- Pepper vinegar (recipe follows)
Wash the greens thoroughly in a big lot of 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 about 6 weeks ahead. But you can speed the process by using sliced peppers rather than whole. Fwiw, whole peppers makes the finished bottle a little more artistic looking, but the main goal is spicy vinegar for your collards, so taste trumps all.
(Thanks to Deborah Madison for the original recipe, which has been helping me for many years to make people’s New Years just that much luckier and fortunier.)