Saturday, January 22, 2011

Collard Greens With Ham Hocks

Kid Rating: 2 out of 3 liked it
Do Again: Yes

I had never tried collard greens before. Never wanted to. But, this is a veggie quest. I kept hearing different people say they liked them, so I thought I'd give them a try. We liked them. I may even grow some in my garden.  {Update:  I have grown them and will continue to.  They are super-easy.  Keep the "stumps" in over the winter, and new leaves will sprout and tie-you-over until your fresh plants produce.  I prefer them from the garden than from the grocery store.}

This recipe comes from Paula Deen and Food Network. It had wonderful reviews, although a common complaint was that it was too salty or too spicy. I researched further and found that more greens were needed (the bunch was too small) to "dilute" the seasonings.

2 smoked ham hocks
1 T of "House" seasoning (recipe on bottom)
1 T of seasoned salt
1 T hot red pepper sauce
1 large bunch of collard greens ("large" is vague -- at least 30 larger leaves, one person wrote that she used 60 leaves - they cook down)
1 T butter

-Boil 3 quarts of water (I put on lid, it took about 15 minutes)
-Add ham hocks, house seasoning, seasoned salt, and red pepper sauce
-Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour -- I didn't know whether I should put a lid on or not. Paula didn't say to, but other sites did. I had a lid on half of the time. Next time, I won't at all and just let the liquid reduce. Also, it's important for the hocks to be cooked before adding the greens (although some sites do it at the same time but for longer).
-Wash collard greens thoroughly. I washed each leaf individually, rubbing dirt off. They weren't too bad. I read you can get really clean prepared leaves at the store.  {Update:  greens from my own garden are much cleaner than from the store.}
- Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. (see photo) The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don't need to be stripped.
-Stack 6-8 leaves together, roll, and slice 1/2 to 1 inch thick strips.
-Put greens in pot and add butter. (Some people suggest trying the water/soup and adjust seasoning before adding greens).
-Cook for 45 minutes. (Lid off.) Stir occasionally. I did a taste test after 25 minutes and liked the texture better. I also read that the longer they cook, the milder the flavor of the greens. I'll try for 30-35 minutes next time. {Update:  Larger, older leaves are tougher and need longer cooking times.}

House Seasoning
(Basically it's 2 parts salt, 1 part pepper, 1 part garlic powder; you can make a smaller batch if you'd like.)
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix and store in airtight container.
(Only take 1 T from this mixture).

I had about 24 leaves of varying sizes -- not enough
for the amount of seasoning.
Three quarts of water. After it boils,
add the ham hocks and seasonings.
Strip leaves from stems.
Start at bottom and pull through.
The most stripping I've ever done.
Stack then roll.
Slice into 1/2 - 1 inch strips.
Add butter and greens.
(Sorry, I got so busy cooking the rest of the
meal that I forgot to keep taking pictures).

It really is good -- not slimy at all.

Pot likker -- the liquid that remains. Save for other
recipes. I should have left the lid off in the
beginning so it would reduce more and concentrate
the flavors.

Family Review
11 y.o. - Good but a little bit too spicy.
9 y.o. - Same. They both liked the taste test at 25 minutes.
5 y.o. - Took one bite, didn't like it. (Figures - at least he tried).
Hubby - I forgot he wouldn't be here. He missed out.
Me - I liked it a lot and am happy to have another veggie to play around with. I look forward to trying other recipes and seasonings. I even tried the ham hock. The leaner pieces were good mixed in with the greens, but I didn't care for the fattier pieces. I did think it was a little salty, but I needed more greens (or less salt next time).

I wonder if just adding smoked liquid would be an okay sub for the ham hocks.
I'd like to try onions and minced garlic in with it.
If the broth is too salty, add more water to dilute it before adding the greens.

This is an easy recipe, but give yourself 2 hours (you're not cooking for the 2 hours, it's just in the pot a long time -- mostly for the hamhocks).


  1. We had these often when I was a kid. My mom used chopped bacon instead of ham hocks. She always overcooked vegetables so we didn't get all the nutrients, but the greens in your prepared dish look crisp and delicious! I like to cook the stems as well, chopped and sauteed with the onions and garlic and chopped smoked almonds. Yummy.

  2. I will try that. Like the reviews by the fam. I bet they taste really good straight out of the garden!

  3. Puff - Your method sounds great. Me, too - I'm not a fan of mushy veggies.

    Michele - I hope it works out for you. The nice thing about this recipe is that it is so inexpensive. I love that I get so much nutritional bang for my buck.