‘Tis the season, I suppose, but I’ve been running around like a loon the past week or so. It’s hard to keep dinners wholesome and healthful when at the end of a long day all I really want to do is pick up the phone and order takeout. At times like these, it’s crucial to have a few mindlessly easy recipes in my back pocket, and this one for quick-cooking collard greens is a constant in my winter rotation. Tonight I added some chicken sausage and warmed up leftover cannellini beans, and dinner was ready in 20 minutes. Hallelujah.
I’ve shared my favorite fancy holiday greens (rich but so good), and this is basically just a lightened-up, pared-down, weeknight version. It’s inspired by Southern-style greens (I use a little bacon fat for a bit of smoky pork flavor and hit them with cider vinegar when they’re done) but instead of cooking them for hours on end, just wilt the collards down in chicken stock until they’re softened and brightened to a glossy emerald green.
Simple Collard Greens
serves about 4
- two large bunches collard greens
- two fat garlic cloves, minced
- two tablespoons olive oil
- one tablespoon bacon fat (see note)
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- one teaspoon crushed Aleppo pepper or red chile flakes (optional)
- one tablespoon cider vinegar
Cut out and discard the stems and tough center ribs of the collard greens, leaving two half-moons. Stack the leaves and cut into rectangles about 2″ x 4″. Rinse well and pat dry (or use a salad spinner, if you have one).
Over medium heat, warm the olive oil, bacon fat and garlic in a dutch oven or a sauté pan with tall sides, until just starting to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add a big handful of collards and toss with a pair of tongs. Pour half of the stock over top, stirring, and cover with the lid. Let the collards wilt a bit before adding more greens. Add stock as needed; season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue to cook down, covered, about 5-8 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the collards are softened and turn a deep emerald green. Take off the heat; sprinkle with red chile flakes and splash with cider vinegar, tossing one last time to combine. Serve warm.
Note: if you don’t have any reserved bacon fat laying around your kitchen, you can omit it or cook a slice or two of bacon before getting started, crumbling the crisped bacon over the collards before serving.