Church Basement Collard Greens are long cooked greens with smoked ham hocks the way old Southern ladies make them. They are the kind of greens I grew up on and I love them like they were a member of my family.
Now I know many folks frown upon collards made with smoked pork so I have a few alternatives for you. You could substitute smoked turkey wings for the smoked ham hocks OR your could make my vegan recipe for Sweet and Sour Rainbow Swiss Chard (substitute collard greens for the Swiss chard if you like) OR you could make a vegan and raw dish of mine Collard Greens Slaw OR you could make this other vegan dish Tomato Braised Collard Greens all good options.
If what you’re looking for is the kind of collard greens (or just “GREENS” as my Grandma would say) that are served after Sunday service then you’ve come to the right place.
The ham hocks are from the lower leg/ankle area of a pig, I buy them salted and smoked. Start your ham hock first in a large stock pot (at least 8 quarts) covered by 3 inches of cold water. Bring them up to a boil then reduce the heat and let them simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, until they become tender. Check them occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. The water should boil down until it is just barely covering the ham hocks.
If you like you can pull the fatty skin off of the ham hocks after cooking and return the meat to the smokey broth.
When you’re shopping for collard greens look for dark green bunches that are not wilted. Beware of collards with brown edges, they may be a little long in the tooth. Wash your greens thoroughly, wash them twice to remove any grit and sand. Pull out the tough stem. The stems can be pickled, I’ll post a recipe for that soon.
Stack the leaves in manageable bunches, roll them up and slice about 1/2 inch wide
Add the collard greens to the water, cover and let them simmer on low heat for 10 minutes so the greens will begin to wilt. Remove the cover and let the greens continue to simmer on low for 35 – 45 minutes-stirring occaisonally, they may need up to an hour depending on the toughness of the leaves. What started out as a huge volume of greens will shrink down as you cook them You want them to be tender but not mushy so check them or texture. Let the liquid in the pot simmer down so that is isn’t covering the greens (there should only be about two cups of liquid, just enough to some halfway up the greens or so) you want the flavors of that “potlikker” to be concentrated.
Taste for salt at this point. The ham hocks are already pretty salty so you may have to add little to no additional salt. Taste for seasoning and add a dash of hot sauce, apple cider vinegar or a pinch of sugar and a little black pepper. It’s really up to you. I’m making some for Kwanzaa dinner to go with my Red Wine Braised Oxtails and Crispy Black Eyed Peas and Yuca Cakes. It’s traditional to have collard greens on New Year’s Day (for good luck or money or something) so I’ll make a double batch.
- 3 smoked ham hocks (substitute smoked turkey wings if you like)
- 2 pounds of collard greens
- black pepper
- apple cider vinegar
- hot sauce
- Rinse the ham hocks and place them in a stockpot
- Cover with 3 inches of water
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
- Cook the ham hocks for 2 hours or until they become tender
- Remove the ham hocks from the water and remove the skin and bones. Shred the meat and return it to the water. Discard the skin and bones
- While the ham hocks are cooking wash your collard greens thoroughly
- Remove the stem (not necessary for tender young leaves)
- Stack the leaves into manageable bunches, roll them up and slice them ½ an inch thick
- When the ham hocks have been cooking for 2 hours add the collard greens
- Simmer the collard greens for 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Taste for seasoning add ground black pepper to taste, a pinch of sugar if you like a little sweetness, salt if you need to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar if you like a bit of acidity and hot sauce if you like it hot