Collard-Greens and Smoked Turkey is a soul food favorite for many groups
How to Purchase Collard-Greens
Collard greens are found in the produce section in the grocer and can be purchased in bags already picked, washed, and cut. The problem: The greens and stems are cut up together in the bag. The stems are usually what most cooks disregard. I don’t buy greens in bags because once you pick the stems from the greens, you have less greens to cook. Also, ready-to-cook greens are more expensive.
Greens normally come in a bunch and usually 4 to 6 bunches (depending on size) are sufficient for a 4 pound recipe after the stems have been removed.
Make sure the leaves are a dark green color, healthy looking, and not wilted or have turned yellow.
How to Wash Collard-Greens and Prepare for Cooking
1. Place greens in cool water in sink slightly higher than greens
2. Use both hands by dipping the greens in and out of the water
3. Repeat process 2 to 3 washings or until dirt and grit have been removed.
Prepare Collard-Greens for Cooking
Once greens have been washed-
1. Remove large stem in middle of greens by folding the leaf vertically.
2. Pull greens away from stem starting from the top
3. Slice leaves into bite-size pieces by rolling several leaves together and slicing in 1/4 inch strips.
4. Disregard all stems.
Collard-Greens with Smoked Turkey Recipe
1 smoked turkey wing or 3 to 4 ounces smoked meat
2 quarts water
1 to 2 hot pepper pods or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 pounds of fresh collard greens
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
4 medium turnips, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
Place turkey wing or smoked meat in large pot; add water and pepper pods. Cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender. Remove from heat, but do not drain. Break stems off of greens. Wash leaves thoroughly. Slice leaves into bite-size pieces by rolling several leaves together and slicing in one fourth inch strips.
Add greens, sugar, oil, vinegar, onion, salt and pepper to smoked meat. Let greens cook down in pot, then cover over medium heat for about 30 minutes. Add turnips and continue cooking until greens and turnips are folk tender. Serve with a slotted spoon. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Collard greens are usually served with- chicken, or beef, along with either white or sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread. Many soul-food kitchens also serve collard greens with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, and chow chow, to complete the meal.
For more menu ideas visit our Soul-Food-Meals section.
Tips to Remember When Preparing Fresh Collard-Greens
1. Cutting the greens in ¼ inch strips will help them cook faster.
2. You can substitute turkey bits instead of smoked turkey wings. Turkey bits cooks faster than the wings.
3. Adjust your seasonings as you see fit. For example, you can omit the salt and use very little pepper.
4. You can add more onion if you like. I add onion in with my meat while cooking and then add more after the greens have cooked for about 20 to 25 minutes. It’s basically up to you.
5. I also add a few dashes of red hot sauce. It really don’t make them spicy, I think it just adds to the flavor.
6. Start with 1 red pepper pod or ½ teaspoon of red crushed pepper to determine if it’s too spicy for your taste. Just remember, red pepper carries heat.
7. Try different variations with seasonings and spices to come up with your unique blend. Once you’ve mastered the process, you’ll be on your way to making a great pot of collard-greens.
Cassandra Harrell is a Soul Food Advisor and recently owned a soul food restaurant and catering service. She has coached one-on-one sessions on preparing great soul food cuisine.
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