Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collard Greens and Ham Hocks

From Collards with Ham Hocks

I mentioned in my Cajun Salmon post that I whipped up some collards and wasn't happy with them. Within a couple of days, I saw at least 3 different people on Twitter asking how to prepare collard greens. Well, I finally made it to the store to pick up the secret ingredient that makes collards so delicious: ham hocks. Ham hocks are kind of like the ankle of a pig. There isn't a whole lot of meat on them, but they have a lot of flavor when boiled to make a stock. Collards are typically made with smoked ham hocks, but my grocer only had regular hocks. I used liquid smoke to compensate.

From Collards with Ham Hocks
OK, here is what you need: 2 ham hocks (1.63), liquid smoke (0.07), 3 bags of frozen collard greens (1.29 x 3), red pepper flakes (0.05), black pepper, and salt. That's a total of $5.62 and you should get at least 6 servings. That's $0.94 per serving.

This is an easy recipe, but it takes a little time, probably about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Start off by frying the ham hocks in a little leftover bacon grease or olive oil on all sides.

From Collards with Ham Hocks
From Collards with Ham Hocks

Keep rolling the hocks around so they'll brown on each side. These guys will spit a lot of grease at you, so when you're not flipping, keep them covered. Your forearms will thank me.

From Collards with Ham Hocks
As the hocks finish up, start boiling a big pot of water. Add two tablespoons of liquid smoke to the water as it heats up.

**Liquid smoke contains sugar and soy, but 2 tbs don't even register as a gram of either ingredient.

From Collards with Ham Hocks

Once the water boils, add the ham hocks. Let them boil for about an hour and a half until the skin starts to fall off when you poke at it. By this time, there should be about an inch of water in the pot. If the water level is too high, wait for it to boil down. Don't remove any water. You want the flavors to condense. When the water level is low enough, add all of the collard greens, a tsp of red pepper flakes, and mix it together. Let them boil for a couple minutes and that's it! Some people like to eat their collards with hot sauce. The ham hocks don't really have much meat on them, so do what you wish with them. They're not pretty, but they taste pretty good.

From Collards with Ham Hocks
A quick note - when the collards cool, they may congeal due to the gelatin that is released from the hocks. Don't be alarmed by this, it's perfectly normal.

1 comment:

T.B.S. said...

Yes! One of my all-time favorites (yep, I'm from the South). Similar procedures can be used with turnip greens, mustard greens, and kale (or a mixture).

Now, as a Southerner :) I feel I have to state that the "hot sauce" that is sometimes put on collards is the peppers-soaked-in-vinegar variety. Like this:

Just vinegar (without the peppers) is another classic. I like apple cider vinegar myself.

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