COLLARD GREENS AND BLACK EYED PEAS
Collard greens are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family. This recipe is reminiscent of my mother's. She seemed to let her greens simmer away for hours! I make mine with ham hocks, which help tenderize the greens and add flavor, along with a little brown sugar to take away any bitterness. A lot of Southern families serve their greens with a side of bread to dip in the cooking broth, known as pot-likker. The broth is packed with vitamins and refers to the leftover "liquor" in the pot, after your greens have cooked. It not only tastes good — it's really good for you!
4 smoked ham hocks, 1 large onion, thinly sliced, 3 bay leaves, 4 pounds collard greens, Chicken stock or broth, or water, as needed, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Rinse the ham hocks and score the skin in several places. In a heavy 8- to 10-quart pot, combine the hocks, onion, and bay leaves with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the hocks are falling apart.
2. Remove the ham hocks from the cooking liquid and reserve the meat, discarding the bones, skin, and fat. Strain the cooking liquid, skim off the fat (i like to use cheese cloth with a strainer because it seems to grab some of the fat as well as strain thouroughly), and return it to the pot.
3. While the ham hocks are cooking, remove the stems from the collard greens and roughly chop; set aside. i rolled the leaves together and made 1 inch slices. your preference i suppose.
4. Add enough chicken stock or water to the cooking liquid to make 6 cups. Add the chopped collard greens, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and reserved ham. here is were i added the black eyed peas. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the greens are very tender. Serve immediately.
"immediately" is B's rule...i had no idea, being this was my first time with greens, how long this was going to take and i was done quite a bit early, so i ended up reheating and, of course, no harm no foul. i even think they were better and better each day they hung out in all the smokey ham hock goodness. i also added some precooked crispy bacon...for good measure. you know my rule...a little, or alot, of bacon never hurt anything....