Beer-Braised Collard Greens

by elleryturner

I didn’t grow up eating tons of collards like some others in super southern households, but I love them nonetheless.  I’ve never cooked them before myself, but I had the pleasure of watching a friend make some this weekend and sampled from her recipe to create this one.  These are fresh picked (by me!!) from a farm in North Carolina.  You can’t get any fresher, healthier, or cheaper than that.  We also had some fresh eggs from said farm that were so creamy, bright yellow, just-laid fresh and all around awesome.  Farm life – I can totally dig it.

The beer in this recipe can be omitted if you have an allergy or aversion.  Though if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not sure I’d like to keep you as a reader if you have an aversion to beer…just kidding!  Kind of.  I used a Sweetwater 420 in this recipe for no other reason than that I like them and I had one in the fridge.  The bitterness of the beer compliments the slight bitterness of the greens and adds to the earthiness of the dish – only further complemented by the tangy apple cider vineger.

Beer-Braised Collard Greens – serves 4

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

6 collard green leaves torn or chopped (about 6 or 7 cups chopped)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups water

12 oz beer of your choice – chicken or vegetable stock can be subbed for the beer

1 ham hock

1 tbls butter, unsalted

Pinch of salt

Step 1: In a large pot, heat butter until melted and add onion and garlic, cooking until fragrant, and stirring frequently – about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add collards and saute another 2 minutes.  Add ham hock, liquids and pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

Step 3: Turn down heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until greens are soft.  Strain and serve, with vinegar on the side for those looking for a little extra tang.

The ham hock can also be left out if you’re doing the vegetarian thing.  Love meat, but don’t have a ham hock handy (who are you?!) – buy a slice of the good bacon from the fresh meat counter at the grocery.  It’ll cost you next to nothing and really add to the depth of flavor.  Follow the same recipe, but leave out the butter – chop bacon as the first step, saute in the pot until starting to crisp, add onions and garlic and follow the instructions from there.

You might be thinking that beer and bacon/ham hocks aren’t the healthiest things in the world, but I believe in everything in moderation, especially if that moderation combines them with a dark leafy green.  An excellent equilizer if I’ve ever seen one. 

And it’s not often you have the chance to enjoy beer and pork AND cancel it out in the same sitting.  You can thank me later.  Or with a farm of my own.  What can I say?  I’m easy to please…