Southern-Style Collard Greens slowly simmered in a smoky meat broth is a classic dish that few vegetarian versions can imitate. Although, those vegetable recreations have a few savory results.
That pot of collard greens braised in a miso broth is simply delicious. A family friend simmered collard greens in vegetable stock, green bell peppers and portabella mushrooms. The raw taste of Brazilian collard greens is truly appreciated when they’re quickly stir-fried to a crisp. Another recipe that exalts the green’s raw taste comes from the Mediterranean, for the greens are blanched 20 minutes before being drenched in cold water. The excess water is squeezed out of the greens before they’re drizzled with lemon juice, olive oil, a dash balsamic vinegar, salt and fresh black pepper. Some vegetarians insist that artificially flavored, high sodium meat flavorings make a splendidly tasty dish of Southern-Style collard greens, but the use of unnatural ingredients in recipes is not of a personal and healthy taste.
Turkey bacon became a meatier alternative when finding turkey meat from an ethical, small farm was difficult. After a few years of experimenting with different collard green recipes, I stumbled upon a booth at a farmer’s market that sold free-range turkey meat, including a few smoked parts for a couple dollars.
Returning to the basics of making Southern-Style Collard Greens with smoked turkey meat became a decision of no regret. The following Sunday, a couple pounds of collard greens were simmered for at least an hour in a smoky turkey meat broth. The greens yielded a smoky, bit of salty, slightly acidic, and sweet tender flavor. That first forkful was slowly savored, for a classic dish was rediscovered. The original meaty dish is truly the best.
2 to 4 lb. Fresh Collard Greens; rinsed and and cleaned at least 3 times, stems removed and discarded; leaves torn into large or small pieces (size of leaves is a personal preference)
Heat a large pot over medium-high temperature. When the pot is hot (test by splattering a few drops of water. When it sizzles, the pot is ready), add oil. If using bacon, cook until brown and crisp. Remove bacon from the pot and set aside on a paper-towel lined plate.
If using turnips: Add a little more oil to the pot. Add turnip and lightly season with salt and pepper. Occasionally stir until light brown (about 5 to 10 minutes). Set aside on a paper-towel lined plate.
In the same pot, saute onions until translucent for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, red pepper, sea salt and black pepper. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the smoked turkey (including the bone) and stir until the meat is warm. Add the chicken stock, dried chili peppers, sugar and vinegar. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Mix in a few handfuls collard greens until the pot is full. When the collards have cooked down, continue to add more. Repeat this step until all the greens are added to the pot.
Partially cover and bring greens to a simmer. After about 25 minutes, taste and if necessary, adjust seasoning.
Cook for at least one hour or until the greens are to the desired tenderness. Occasionally stir the greens and continue tasting.
If using turnips: About 15 to 20 minutes before the greens are done, return the turnips to the pot. Continue cooking until a fork easily slides through a turnip piece.
Ladle Southern-Style Collard Greens into individual bowls or plates, top with bacon and serve with Buttermilk Cornbread on the side. Place red chile vinegar on the side to allow guests to drizzle more onto their greens.