I got to make a big ‘ole mess of greens. How the term “mess” became a descriptive word for a quantity is beyond me. I find it to be a humorous description for whatever reason. I hear it used most often by southerners. I only use it in association with southern food too. A big mess of lasagna doesn’t see to flow right. Anyway, the word mess was one of the thoughts I had while making a pot of Southern Collard Greens.
I had plenty of time to think too. Old-fashioned southern greens are cooked to death and then some more. It goes beyond greens too. Just about any vegetable didn’t escape being simmered to almost mush in the south. Yet southern cooking has changed over the years. I like both old and new. For this post though, it’s all about the old way.
Southern turnip greens vary a lot. Well, more than a lot. What goes into the pot of greens differs so much it is mind boggling. How long they are cooked can even depend on when they are picked. Greens picked after the first frost will cook faster. They can also be less bitter. How greens are seasoned can be with ham hocks, ham bone, salt pork, bacon, chicken broth, smoked turkey, and more. Beyond that some add onions, pepper sauce, and other spices.
I called my mom before making the collards. I wanted to find out how her and my dad made them. She said most often it was only greens, water, and either fatback (salt pork) or bacon. Then she handed the phone to her helper Jenny. She uses chicken broth because she usually doesn’t have fatback on hand. Then she told me about something I’ve never heard before. She said if they are still tough and bitter after cooking a while to add a teaspoon of baking soda. Then cook for an additional 15 minutes.
I first decided to use salt pork like my parents did. Then while at the store I spotted smoked ham hocks. I knew they would work just as well or better because of the added smoky ham flavor. I got the hocks and a two pound bag of shredded collard greens. Yes, I went for convenience. Rinsing collards is a chore. You have to do it at least 4 times to get out all the grit. Then removing the center stalk from each leaf and chopping takes a while. Opening a bag is so much easier.
First step is to cook the ham hocks. Doing so softens the hocks and flavors the water. At the end of cooking the greens you will have this scrumptious liquid called pot likker. Sop it up with cornbread, biscuits, or rolls. You can also save it to use in soup too.
I cooked the collards for over an hour. I tasted them and they were still a little tough and bitter. So I added the baking soda and it was like magic. Minutes later they were just like they should be. Oh, and serve them with hot sauce. The kind of hot sauce that is pepper juice. Look for a bottle with small peppers and clear liquid.
Southern Collard Greens are a classic for my region. It was what I knew I had to make for the Sunday Supper Regional Specialties event hosted by Sue of A Palatable Pastime. It’s fun to see what recipes are being shared for which regions. Scroll down to see the list. Each recipe is a click away. Also look at Hoppin’ John, Butter Beans, Chow Chow, and Turnip Green Soup for more southern recipes.
Southern Collard Greens
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 8 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds shredded collard greens see note
- 1 teaspoon baking soda if needed
Place ham hocks, water, salt, and pepper in a 7- or 8-quart soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a slow boil or fast simmer. Cover loosely and cook for 1 1/4 hours.
Add collard greens. Bring to a simmer and cover loosely. Cook for 1 1/4 hours.
Taste collards. If too bitter and still somewhat tough and firm, stir in baking soda and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove and discard ham hocks (or you can pull the ham from the bones and add ham back to the pot).
Look for bags of shredded collard greens in the produce section. If using whole collards, rinse thoroughly a few times to remove dirt or else the finished dish will be gritty. Remove and discard the center stalk from the leaves then cut leaves into shreds (will add to prep time).
It’s time to discover food from different regions. Take a look at these regional recipes by Sunday Supper tastemakers. There is such a tasty variety:
- Crispy Salmon Bites with Homemade Tartar Sauce by Pine Needles In My Salad
- Loaded Tex-Mex Chile con Queso by The Weekend Gourmet
- New England Style Stuffed Clams by Caroline’s Cooking
- Brandy Old Fashioned by Curious Cuisiniere
- Wine Pairing Recommendations For #SundaySupper Regional Specialties by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- Breakfast Empanada Casserole by Simply Healthy Family
- Pittsburgh Steak Salad by Seduction in the Kitchen
- Homemade Ranch Dressing by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Tupelo Honey Key Lime Vinaigrette by Family Around the Table
- Alabama White Barbecue Sauce by Cookin’ Mimi
- Delaware Crabs by Delaware Girl Eats
- JoJo Potatoes by A Mind Full Mom
- Long Beans with Coconut by Food Lust People Love
- Old Bay Cauli-Tots by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Southern Collard Greens by Magnolia Days
- Mohawk Corn Soup by kimchi MOM
- Steve’s Famous Maryland Crab Soup by Monica’s Table
- Amish Chicken and Noodles by Palatable Pastime
- Boiled Lobster with Drawn Butter by Taste And See
- Bison Steaks with Cranberry Chimichurri by Tramplingrose
- California Beer Steamed Shrimp by Nosh My Way
- Avocado BLT Sandwich by Brunch-n-Bites
- Cali Inspired Fish Tacos by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Cheesy Tex Mex Enchiladas by The TipToe Fairy
- Cola Marinated Steak Tips by Hardly a Goddess
- Corn and Bacon Chowder by Moore or Less Cooking
- Crab-Stuffed Artichokes with Spicy Aioli by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Deep Fried Pizza Roll by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Halal Cart-Style Chicken and Rice with White Sauce by The Texan New Yorker
- Copycat Hattie B’s Hot Chicken by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Homemade Quebec Maple Baked Beans by She Loves Biscotti
- How to Make Vegetable Lumpia by Asian In America
- Italian Hot Dog by Simple and Savory
- Mom’s City Chicken by My Life Cookbook
- North Carolina BBQ with Cole Slaw and Hush Puppies by The Freshman Cook
- Philly Cheesesteak Calzones by Baking Sense
- Polish Boy Sandwich by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Spicy Salmon for Tacos by Hey What’s for Dinner Mom?
- Tex-Mex Slowcooker Chicken and Beef Fajitas by Meal Planning Magic
- West Michigan Wet Burritos by Wholistic Woman
- Upside Down Angel Food Cupcakes by Cooking With Carlee
- Austrian Mohnnudeln (Poppy Seed Noodles) by The Bread She Bakes
- Butter Tarts – A Canadian Tradition by Red Cottage Chronicles
- Carob Cherry Crumb Bars by Pies and Plots
- Florida Key Lime Cream Pie by The Crumby Cupcake
- Fried Biscuits by Angels Home Sweet Homestead
- Gooey Butter Cake by Our Good Life
- Homemade Butterscotch Krimpets by The Redhead Baker
- Rhubarb Steamed Pudding from Sunday Supper Movement
- San Jose Burnt Almond Cake by Eat, Drink and be Tracy
- Shoofly Pie by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Spanish Bar Cake by Get the Good Stuff!
- Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Join the #SundaySupper family on twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the conversation. To get more great Sunday Supper recipes, visit the Sunday Supper Movement website or check out our Sunday Supper Pinterest board.
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Lauren @ Sew You Think You Can Cook
Sunday 29th of May 2016
I've actually never had collard greens! My husband grew up in Alabama and he can't remember eating them (then again he didn't eat much green food before I met him). I should probably give them a try.
Thursday 28th of April 2016
I absolutely love these greens... along with rapini and swiss chard. Great vegetables! Thanks for sharing :)
Wednesday 27th of April 2016
I've only made collard greens once without success - I will be trying this soon!
Wednesday 27th of April 2016
I've come to like collards, especially with ham hock, and it's funny to think I'd never even heard of them a few years back. These look great.
Cindys Recipes and Writings
Tuesday 26th of April 2016
I love collards with a lot of vinegar. Bacon or ham hocks make them soooo good! I never heard of the baking soda trick. It makes sense to me!