Hearty collard greens require little more than heat and a bit of time to become incredibly delicious. (Or even just a sharp knife, if you want to serve them raw.) In the American South, where they are a culinary icon, collard greens are commonly cooked over many hours, mingling with smoked pork or turkey and tinged with vinegar, but there are countless preparations from communities around the world.
This collard greens recipe leaves out meat and goes heavy on garlic for flavor. The greens need to cook for at least an hour, but you can leave them unattended for most of that time. The finished dish will present you with plenty of potlikker, the earthy broth the greens and aromatics leave behind from all that simmering. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread for soaking up those flavorful juices, or reserve the liquid to sip on the next day as you would a broth.
If you want to get ahead, you can make this recipe a day or two in advance of serving and store it in the refrigerator. Just heat it up on the stove until it’s warmed through. Collards can also be made in an Instant Pot in about 30 minutes or less.
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published October 16, 2017.
Heat ½ cup oil in a large saucepan over medium. Cook garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until garlic is golden, about 4 minutes.
Add collard greens to saucepan a handful at a time, stirring until each addition is wilted before adding the next. Season with salt and add 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so mixture is at a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook, occasionally removing lid to stir, until greens are tender and very dark green, 1–1½ hours.
Let cool slightly, then stir vinegar and sugar into greens. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with more oil and a splash more of vinegar if desired.
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This was unexpectedly delicious! The olive oil cooked into mine, so adding more at the end was necessary. And the soupçon of vinegar, mmm.
I've made this several times and loved it. Excellent as written, but also delicious with tweaks for different flavor profiles (e.g., black mustard seeds & cumin seeds for Indian style collards). The garlic cooks in the olive oil pretty quickly, so you need to have all the collards ready to go from the start.
wayyy too much oil. came out very oily at the end, even without drizzling more. i would cut oil in half next time. otherwise everything else tasted great. would also do more than 2 bunches of collards at a time, as they reduce like crazy—there were barely 3 portions in the pot by the end.
Los Angeles, CA