Living south of the Mason-Dixon line, collard greens are an essential ingredient on any well laid winter table. Unlike most leafy greens, they are tough and difficult to eat when fresh. Also unlike most leafy greens, collards stand up famously to hours and hours of cooking. We like ours best with lots of apple cider vinegar, but you are welcome to adjust the proportions to your taste. Collard greens are very versatile and open for interpretation. The only non-negotiable ingredient is the collards themselves, and hours of gentle simmering.
2 large bundles of collard greens (looks like too much, but they shrink drastically!)
2 cups apple cider vinegar (you can add slowly and adjust to taste as you cook)
3 cups water
2 tablespoons sea salt (adjust to taste)
2-3 strips of cooked bacon, cooled and crumbled finely
Carefully rinse off all the collard leaves. Cut out the hard center rib. Stack several leaves on top of one another, roll into a tube shape, and slice thinly to produce long strips of leaves.
Pour all water and vinegar (in the ratio of your choice), salt, bacon, and collards to a large pot. If the greens are overflowing a bit, don’t worry. They will quickly begin to reduce in size and leave lots of room! Set the heat to high until the liquid boils, then cover and simmer for at least an hour, preferably two. Or three.
Did I mention how flexible this recipe is?
The collards are done when they are soft and very tender. You can continue to adjust your water and vinegar ratio as you cook. If you like them with lots of liquid, add more and keep the lid on. If you have too much liquid to your taste, remove the lid (and raise heat slightly to keep them simmering) and allow liquid to evaporate.