Justin Wilson’s Collards and Ham Hocks

  • 2 pounds smoked ham hocks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • Louisiana hot sauce or ground cayenne pepper to taste (I used 2 Tbsp Texas Pete)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 pounds collard greens, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Put the ham hocks, onions, garlic, and hot sauce in an 8 quart pot with enough water to cover the ham hocks.  Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the water comes to a boil. After it begins to boil, remove the lid and let boil for 5 more minutes. Stir in the salt, wine, and collards, then add the soy sauce and stir again; cover turn the heat to low, and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  If necessary add more water so that the greens don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Yield: 4-6 servings

From Justin Wilson’s Homegrown Louisiana Cookin’ 

Gray:  This recipe was a last minute choice.  I had planned to make the recipe that will be coming up next week, but then when I got home on Friday, the collard fairy had delivered a whole collard plant.  This thing was huge, and consumed the entire stove top (see picture).  Katie got this as a gift from her co-worker Otis.

A gift this awesome was too good to pass up, so we put our other recipe on hold and made a big mess of collards (that is a Southern unit of measure).  We had to find something to go with it, so we whipped up the corn chowder recipe for this weekend as well.  We are presenting a double header.

This turned out great, and I have even converted Katie to the collard fan club.  For those who have never tasted fresh collards, they are way better than what you usually get in most restaurants.  Those likely come from cans, and are often way over cooked.  Fresh collards on the other hand will still have much of their texture and some bite to really set them off.  This Justin Wilson recipe calls for cooking them quite a while, but I think you really need to taste them as you go and make sure that you don’t over cook them.  The 2 Tbsp of hot sauce was not too much, and I even put a little more on the greens when cooked and they were fine.

Katie: As I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes have a prejudice against certain foods based on what I think they tastes like or what I remember them tasting like when I was a child. I am really trying to get over that, and this is proof that there is no reason to scoff at foods that way! These were great! I have been more open to trying collards because we made Brussels sprouts last year (recipe not blogged about) and I loved them! Gray didn’t love the Brussels sprouts, but we will probably make them again using a different recipe and blog about them this time. I have now tried several kinds of cooked greens: cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnip greens, and collards. I have to say that they are good! Maybe someone else can learn from the error of my ways and get out there and try new things too! You could be missing out on something special.

Don’t let the collard plant scare you away. First of all, most of the time the leaves come already removed off the plant. However, it was easy to break the leaves off the stem. We rinsed the leaves whole once. Then Gray showed me how to cut them up. We really should have taken a picture, but here’s what he did. He first put them on the cutting board and basically cut them in half, removing the stem. He stacked them up, cut sides all together. After he got them all halved, he took a portion of the stack and rolled it up so the leaves would stay together, then sliced them. We cleaned half of our sink and then filled it up with cold water, put in the sliced leaves in batches, and swirled them around to remove any remaining dirt and grit. We have eaten the collards twice now, and have encountered no grit! Some people don’t like the smell of cooking collards, but we were not bothered by it. I feel that the smell is worse if you weren’t in the house the whole time, but came in part way through or when just finished. Since we were in the kitchen preparing the corn chowder, we never even noticed a bad smell, and it had dissipated by the time we left for a walk and came back. If the smell bothers you, some people cook them outdoors, either in a fish cooker or on the gas grill. It is worth a try because the results are great!

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