I have southern roots, and every New Year’s day, we would eat hoppin john, which is basically a stew of black-eyed peas, rice, and ham. I was always told this dish brought good luck and prosperity because the peas represented coins. Traditionally, you serve hoppin john with collard greens (the color of money) and corn bread (gold). So, this month pretty much has me thinking of southern food nonstop.
People who aren’t from the south don’t “get” collard greens. They don’t like them because they are bitter, or too crunchy, or too soggy, or too salty. No. They’ve just had bad collard greens.
Here is my recipe for this wonderful side dish. These are sweet, sour, and smoky. They are cooked long and low until the greens are silky smooth. This is a traditional dish, meaning it is very non-vegetarian. Bust out that Dutch oven and get ready for a few hours of cooking. This is worth the lengthy time investment.
Adapted from a recipe in Southern Living that I found in 2009.
- 4 slices hickory smoked bacon, finely chopped
- 1/2 large sweet onion or 3/4 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 pound smoked ham, chopped (deli meat is fine!)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 32-ounce container chicken broth
- 1 pound fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed
- In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium for 10-12 minutes until crisp
- Add the onion and sauté for 8 minutes until completely translucent
- Add the ham and garlic, cook 1 minute
- Stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper
- Pour in the broth and top with the collard greens, tossing to combine
- Cook for 2 hours partially covered, stirring occasionally, until silky smooth and the liquid is absorbed