Collard Greens

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A broad leafed green plant, related to kale that is used as an ingredient in green salads, or as a vegetable to be served for a cooked vegetable dish, or combined and with other ingredients to be stir fried and served as part of a main dish. Collard greens are very popular food in southern areas of the United States.

When preparing the greens, the leaf and two thirds of the stem can be used if desired in order to consume a majority of the nutrients that are contained in the stem. Since the greens retain excess dirt after harvesting, a thorough washing is necessary. To wash, place the greens in a bath of cold water with salt sprinkled over the greens. The salt will aid in bringing out excess dirt, bugs and foreign matter. If desired, allow the greens to remain in the water for 20 to 30 minutes and then give them a second bath using luke warm water. As an additional effort, a drop of dish soap can be added to the water to assist with the cleaning, making sure to thoroughly wash the greens to remove any residue or soap, similar to the washing of common dishes and utensils. Shake off excess water and allow the greens to air dry for 5 to 10 minutes.

For seasoning collard greens, any one of a variety of flavorings can be considered for this vegetable. As an example, meat can be cooked with the greens, preferably a ham hock, to provide a hearty flavor to the green. In addition, various flavorings such as greens spice or crushed pepper, salt, seasoning salt, garlic powder (not garlic salt), a small amount of sugar (removes the bitterness), or a peeled whole onion can be added. Additional flavorings include cooking the greens with a small amount or animal fat. Or, add crumbled corn bread just prior to serving to add flavor to the greens.

When preparing, many believe that collard greens have the best flavor if they are sautéed, however greens can be prepared in a variety of ways depending on the desired results. If the greens are to be boiled with meat, they can be added the same time as the meat if smoked or pre-cooked meat is being used. Otherwise, when using fresh meat, boil the meat completely before adding the greens. When preparing the water, determine the size of cooking pot necessary and fill it with half or less of water. Too much water shrinks the greens and reduces the flavor. Prior to adding the greens, a peeled whole onion can be placed in the water and both brought to a soft boil before removing the onion. Add the greens and allow 30 to 35 minutes of cooking time to reach the desired texture. Checking the stem to see if it bends easily will indicate if the desired softness has been reached. Without the use of meat, any of the other seasonings can be used to flavor the greens, added to taste as desired.

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