Collards are a staple in the Southern states, especially during the fall. While they have made many a child turn their nose up a time or two, the thick, dark green leaves have a flavor we tend to grow in to. Perhaps it’s the more mature approach to our diet that comes with age, or the pull to embrace the Southern traditions of the older members of our family. Either way, collards are not only a colorful addition to the dinner plate, but a nutritious one as well. Collards contain only 35 calories per half a cup and are rich in folate, calcium, fiber and vitamins E, A, K & C. In a study, they were found to have the 4th highest antioxidant capacity of 12 nutrient-rich foods. It's no wonder they've been linked to lower cholesterol levels and have anti-inflammatory properties. Seems our parents were correct after all.
- 4 bunches of fresh collards
- 1 large white onion
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 8 slices thick bacon, cooked and diced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 pound butter
- 2 quarts chicken broth or water
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Wash and stem collards. Carefully wash collards with cold water in sink or large basin, being sure to rub each leaf to remove surface dirt. Drain the vessel and repeat two more times, using fresh water. Shake off any access water. Stack and roll collards to easily cut into 1-2 inch strips. Fill pot with 1 1/2 quarts water or chicken stock and boil on low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Slice onion in wide strips and sauté with bacon, butter and crushed red pepper on low heat so onions do not brown. Set aside. When collards are semi-soft and bright green, drain all liquid and carefully rinse in a colander with cold water. Pick ham hocks and return meat to pan with collards and remaining 1/2 quart water or stock and add the onion/bacon mixture and vinegar. Simmer at a low boil for about 45 minutes, stirring as needed.