Southern-style Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks

A member of the cabbage family, collard greens are a staple on most tables in the southeastern U.S. They were thought to have been brought over from Africa but they were here long before and cooked by the native Americans.  Long considered humble fare they are now getting the attention they’re due as they are very nutritious and high in iron, Vitamins A, C, and other nutrients.

This recipe uses smoked ham hocks instead of the more traditional fatback to flavor the greens.  Oh!, and when you’re done DO NOT throw out the liquid in the pot.  It’s called “pot liquor” and can be used as the cooking liquid for other veggies like beans or greens.

This is part of  “A Florida Family Farm Thanksgiving“, a collaboration of Worden Farm with Tim and Chelsea Clarkson, owners of Grove Ladder Farm, in Sarasota, Florida specializing in pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic free poultry and eggs, and Ray Toves, a Sarasota-based chef and food photographer, who prepared his original recipes and photographed the food and the event. The series includes photos and recipes of the food and festivities that our two families shared during our early Thanksgiving dinner held on our farm in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Preparation Time:  30 minutes

Cooking Time:  2 hours (1 hour for the smoked ham hock; 1 hour for the collards)

Serves:  6 or more

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of collard greens, triple-washed (they can be sandy), rib removed, leaves rolled and sliced
  • 1 or 2 smoked ham hocks (1 if you just want the smoky pork flavor; 2 if you want meat as well)
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 cup yellow onion medium dice
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

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Preparation:

  • Peel and medium dice the onion; set aside.
  • Mince the garlic; set aside.
  • Collard greens:
    • Triple wash, drain.
    • Remove the tough white rib (as shown above).
    • Cut the leaf crosswise then roll both together, slice; set aside.

Cooking:

  • Heat a large soup pot on a burner set at medium-high heat, add the evoo, and onions, cook for about 1 minute, add garlic, cook for another minute.
  • Add the ham hock/s and water, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  • After 1 hour remove the ham hocks and allow them to cool.
  • Add all the greens and gently press them until they are all underwater, cover and cook for another hour.
  • This next step is optional.
    • Although there isn’t a lot of meat on the hocks, it is there, so if you want to return any meat to the pot of cooking collards, cut away the skin and fat from the ham hock/s.  Remove the meat and dice into medium-sized pieces; return them to the pot.  Nothing stopping you from doing the same to the skin and fat; they are quite delicious as well.
  • After 1 hour the greens should be tender but still have a little bite to them.
  • Taste for seasoning but you may not need to add extra salt.  The ham hocks, which have been salt-cured and smoked, will release their salt into the liquid in the pot.
  • The collard greens with smoked ham hocks are ready!

Enjoy!

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