I am of the belief that collard greens are perpetually misunderstood. Most people I know think these greens can be served only one way — paired with a hunk of smoked meat and cooked until they’re limp and olive-colored.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against this particular approach and have always appreciated a serving of long-braised greens. It’s just that I think it’s time to broaden our approach to the humble, healthy collard. Who knows, maybe we’ll make it as popular as its cousin kale!
My collard conversion started a few years back. I had gotten yet another bunch in my CSA share and needed desperately to free up some space in the crisper. Without time for a long braise, I decided to treat the collard greens like Swiss chard.
I cut them into thin ribbons and sauteed them in olive oil with lots of slivered garlic until they were just limp. My first bite was uncertain, as I assumed they’d be tough and chewy (because why else would you need to cook them for hours?). But I was delighted to discover they were tender and had married deliciously with the garlic.
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I know Thanksgiving 2008 is way over, but I can’t stop dreaming of the three new side dishes I cooked. They were so fabulous that I’m planning on making them again for Christmas.
I grew up in San Antonio and had two cousins from Austin visiting me in NYC this year, so I chose a menu that reflected the foods we loved on Turkey Day when we were kids in South Texas. When it came to the turkey itself, I admit I cheated. The big bird I bought from a local BBQ joint tasted just like my dad’s version, only no one had to get up at 4am to start smoking it over mesquite in the back yard. It paired perfectly with the two types of BBQ sauce I forced my cousins to smuggle from home, and it freed up my tiny Manhattan oven.
The sides were the real winners, though. I chose these three easy but truly tasty recipes.
Fennel Orange Cranberry Sauce from Dave Lieberman
I opted to grind my fennel seeds a bit with a mortar and pestle, but I wished I hadn’t. The rush of fennel when you bite into a seed is part of this recipe’s appeal, and the flavor works so well with turkey.
Twice Baked Potatoes from the FN Test Kitchens
I ran the cooked and scooped-out potatoes through my ricer to make the filling extra fluffy and smooth. Then I snuck in some extra butter and sour cream since my taters were jumbo-sized. I also trashed the tops and served them open-faced like my grandma always did.
Creamed Collard Greens from The Neelys
Follow the instructions and let the cream reduce by half. I got impatient/hungry, so the dish was a little too runny. Mea culpa.
Remember: We’ve got your back (and your sides) here at FN.com.