Thursday, April 22, 2010

Learning Experience : Collard Greens

For me cooking is the most fun when done in preparation for a big gathering of friends. I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than cooking for people that you love and enjoying the food with them. Most of the time when I cook for a large group I do it with my good friend Marcus. He is a great cook and is well known for his macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and grill skills. Lucky for me Marcus isn’t only a friend but also my boyfriend’s roommate so we get to hang out a good bit and usually plan parties together; we work together seamlessly and always kid that we should have a television show. Along with the big get togethers we also make week night meals and share them with each other quite frequently. Marcus and I cook and the boyfriend supplies the beverages (at least in theory). Over the weekend I harvested some collard greens out of the garden and obviously asked Marcus to cook them for dinner one night during the week. We were very excited about our “farm to table” experience, but Marcus is getting ready for a big business trip and has been working late all week long and in knowing that he would be working late again he gave me instructions to prepare the collard greens and we figured I would take a stab at it so we could eat before 10pm…

Collard Greens – Marcus Style
Collard greens
Ham Hocks
3 cloves garlic (peeled but not chopped)
Hot Sauce
SALT (a lot) and pepper

Place the ham hocks and garlic cloves in a soup pot with a lid and add water half way up the ham hocks then add about 7-8 shakes of hot sauce (almost turn the water red) and about 2 tbl salt. Put the lid on the pan and simmer on medium low for an hour. To prepare the collard greens wash them well and cut into strips. I rolled up about 5 leaves at a time, made a slit down the middle (along the stem) and then cut perpendicular to that slit about every inch and a half. Once the water has simmered for an hour (at least, 2 to even 3 hours is ideal) add the prepared collard greens and a lot of salt (about 3 or 4 tbl) pepper, a little more hot sauce, and let them cook down about 15 minutes until tender, and then serve…in a word delicious…

You may wonder why the above recipe doesn’t list amounts for any of the ingredients, and to be honest with you it is because I really don’t know them. I can tell you that the collard greens filled up a gallon size zip top bag, I bought $2.50 worth of ham hocks (which was the average package at the grocer, 3 small hocks) and I should have used more hot sauce (the amount listed above is what I wish I would have used). I also think this is a no recipe, recipe. Meaning it is a method and should be modified for your taste, if you like spicy food add a ton of hot sauce or if you don’t like garlic leave it out, but the basic premise remains the same – create a braising liquid for your collards by stewing ham hocks, garlic and hot sauce in water then add the collards and seasoning and let them cook. So on this night I did it, I made the collard greens, but truth be told, in the future, if possible I will leave the collard cooking to Marcus, because even though he said mine were good his are better. But now I, and you know, how to prepare collard greens true southern style…

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