Collard Greens and Liquid Gold

The South is full of wonderful foods. We have fried chicken, mac & cheese, cornbread, and IMG_2404-1biscuits. Each and every one of us has consumed these foods our entire lives and often look forward to the next time that we get to do so. But not all Southern foods are like this. Some foods are very divisive. You either love it or you absolutely hate it. Perhaps the most popular one in this group is collard greens. I know people who can’t stand to be in the same house that they are being cooked in because they hate the smell. Others you can’t keep away from the stove…they have to eat a spoonful every time they go through the kitchen. (Some people purposefully pass by the kitchen just to get a little taste).

Personally? I love collard greens. Just give me a big bowl and a biscuit to sop up the juices and I’m good to go. (Traditionally cornbread is served, but I’m not much for cornbread. I know, I’m not a true Southern woman…blah, blah, blah. But biscuits are Southern, too, so there!) The flavor is complex. It’s earthy, salty, sweet, and acidic. You just can’t beat it, in my opinion.

So, you’re lucky. Today, you get to learn how to master this Southern staple. We eat them year-round down here, but they are most popularly consumed on New Year’s Day to ensure wealth for the coming year. I make sure I prepare them a few more times than that because a little extra help in the wealth department here and there isn’t a bad thing.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Collard Green IngredientsTHE INGREDIENTS.

  • Fresh collard greens, cleaned and chopped (one stalk is what I’m using)
  • Corn oil
  • Thick-cut (or slab) bacon, small cubes
  • Onion, medium dice
  • Brown sugar
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper

THE METHOD. Okay. So maybe there isn’t a classic “method” to making collard greens, but there is a method, nonetheless. It’s a method that you can use to make all of your greens (collard, turnip, and mustard…). Basically, it involves cleaning the greens and then cooking the greens.

washing the greens2THE CLEAN. We begin by cleaning the collard greens. You can buy them already cleaned and bagged or still attached to the stalk, which his how I purchased them today.

Getting them off their stem is easy. Just grasp the stem near the bottom of the leaf and pull up. The leaves should just come right off.

Now, collards grow in sandy soil, so they need to be cleaned. I do this by filling my sink with cold water and placing the chopped greens right on in there. The greens will float and the sand will sink to the bottom. Simply remove the greens and place in a colander. They will be good to go.

The rendering bacon...mmm...

The rendering bacon…mmm…

THE COOK. Cooking these babies is so easy because it’s a one-pot wonder. Gotta love that.

  • Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add a little bit of corn oil to coat the bottom of the pan and throw in the bacon. Render all the fat out so that the collards can absorb all of the deliciousness.
  • Once the bacon is rendered, add the chopped onion. Cook this for a couple of minutes. I love the smell of bacon and onions cooking together. It’s absolutely divine and, in my opinion, tops the smell of onion and garlic. If I could put the smell onto the blog, I would. All of you would be racing to the store to purchase the ingredients to make these collards once you smelled this, I promise.
  • Add a little bit of brown sugar. I used about a tablespoon, but this is really up to you. Some people choose to leave out this ingredient, but I like the balance that it gives to the dish.
  • Add the sherry vinegar in equal parts with the sugar. The vinegar brightens the flavor of the greens.
  • Adding the GreensNow, it’s time to add the collard greens. Place as much as you can in the pot while still being able to stir.

You’re probably thinking, “Holy cow! That’s way too many greens, Kelley. And you still have several handfuls left to add!”….I know, I know. It seems like a lot, but greens cook down a ridiculous amount. There will be plenty of room.

Stir the greens around and once they have cooked down a bit, add some more. Continue this process until all of the greens are in the pot.

  • Add a cup or so of chicken stock to the pot. We’re braising the greens here so we don’t need to cover them with liquid.

Now, this liquid is what I refer to as “liquid gold.” Why? Because it’s the most complex part of the dish. It absorbs the saltiness and smokiness from the bacon as well as the sweetness from the onion and the brown sugar. The acidity from the vinegar and the bitter earthiness of the greens leach out into this liquid, too. It’s the perfect essence from the dish. You can even strain and use it as the base for soups or sauces. It’s what really makes these collard greens amazing.

Sorry for the rant…back to the greens…

  • Collard Green Close UpAdd a little bit of salt and pepper. You’ll probably add more of both at the end of the cooking process. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s already in there. Let the greens cook for an hour or so and re-check your seasoning.
  • Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on low, or until the greens are tender. A younger green won’t take as long to cook, but most of the greens in the grocery store are older and sturdier. Plus, the longer they cook, the more complex the flavors get and that’s a good thing.

ENJOY IT. Serve them up in a bowl with some biscuits (or cornbread) and you’ll have a delicious lunch. You can also serve them with some black-eyed peas or fried chicken. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with these collard greens.








A Southern Girl and Her Potato Salad

I’m a Southern girl living in a very Southern world. This world includes Fall’s filled with College Football and tailgating. How could it not? I was born yelling “Go Dawgs!” and transitioned into saying “War Eagle!” after my time at Auburn. Fall is my favorite time of year solely because of football. Plus, during this time we get to chow down on Southern favorite’s such as fried chicken, mac & cheese, and BBQ. It’s pretty much essential to eat BBQ during at least ONE tailgate during the season and there are zero complaints coming from this girl. What’s not to love about BBQ? It’s smoky and succulent. If you mix in the famous Tennessee sauce that is ketchup and vinegar-based, then you have a win-win combination. Sadly, there is a downside to this wonderful time of year. A lot of the BBQ joints down here have killer smoked pork, chicken, and brisket, but they really let us down when it comes to the sides. They have the gall to serve us pre-made sides from vendors like Sysco and U.S. Foods. Let me tell you, it really puts a damper on the experience because you totally can tell that they purchased these sides. Taking the easy way out, I say.

Potato Salad dishThe funny thing is that it’s so ironic. I mean, BBQ takes 10+ hours to really be delicious. It’s a process that is difficult to master and is very time consuming. Kudos to them. Seriously. They really put in the effort, but then they serve pre-made, store bought sides with their delectable smoked meats. It really defeats the purpose. As if making cole slaw and potato salad takes hours of their time…puh-lease. This is what is so frustrating. In the time it takes them to order and unload their pre-made potato salad, they could make their own from scratch and it would be 10 TIMES more delicious.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on them. Maybe they don’t know that it takes 30 minutes (an hour, tops, if you include making it in bulk) to make potato salad. So, this post is for them. It’s to teach them that the perfect potato salad is within their reach.

Let’s get started…


  • Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Yellow onion, small dice
  • Hard boiled eggs, small dice
  • Mayonnaise (Homemade or store bought is fine. I’m personally using Blue Plate).
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

THE POTATOES. This is one of the simplest potato dishes out there. I’m not kidding. It’s 5 ingredients. FIVE. And most of these ingredients you probably have lying around the house already.

Potatoes ready to bring to a boil and then simmered until fork tender.

Potatoes ready to bring to a boil and then simmered until fork tender.

To get started, peel your potatoes and cut them into whatever size cube that you want your potato chunks to be in the salad. I’m using two potatoes because I’m just making it for a couple of people and I like to cut mine into about 1/2- 3/4 inch cubes. Not too small, but not too large. Place them in a pot and cover them with water (there should be one to two inches of water that comes up above the potatoes). Bring them to a boil and reduce them to a simmer. You don’t want them boiling the whole time because the outside of the potato will cook much faster than the inside and you will quickly have mashed potatoes instead of nice chunks for your potato salad.

Once they are fork tender, strain them and place them in a large bowl to mix the rest of the ingredients.

THE EGGS**. There is a lot of controversy over how to correctly boil eggs so that they are perfectly cooked. Do you place them in cold water and bring to a boil or do you place them into boiling water? How do you know how long to cook them? Do you need to put them in ice water afterwards?

Who knew that boiling eggs seemed so difficult? The good news is that I have the technique to give you perfectly hard boiled eggs every single time and it requires 4 simple steps.

Basically, the perfect hard boil egg!

Basically, the perfect hard boil egg!

  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.
  2. Carefully add your eggs.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes. (Now, if the eggs are jumping up and down in the pot, then turn down the temperature slightly. They are eggs, after all, and they will crack).
  4. Shock them in an ice water bath (to immediately stop the cooking process).

That’s it. You will have the perfect hard boiled egg. Every. Time. No lies.

THE MIX. Once your eggs are cooked and ready to go (peeled and chopped), place them in the bowl with the potatoes. It’s best if the potatoes are still warm (not boiling hot) because it will help in the absorption of the mayo. Add the onions and mayonnaise. We’ll start with a 1/4 of a cup and go up from there. You can always add more, but you can’t take away. Mix it up. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The finished potato salad.

The finished potato salad.

Give it at taste. Need more mayo? Add a little bit more. Need more salt? Add a little bit more. The more you cook, the less guessing you will have to do. It starts to become second nature. Potatoes will take a lot of salt, though, so don’t be worried if you feel like you are adding a lot. Also, salt brings out the natural flavors in all of the ingredients and really brings everything together. Salt isn’t the enemy.

And you’re finished. Sure it isn’t an absolutely stunning looking potato salad. It’s all kind of the same color. If you want to add red onion or green onion to give it some color go for it. It is your dish after all, but I’m going to leave mine as it because that’s the way my mom makes it. You see, us Southern gals like to follow tradition.

All you have to do now is cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Some people like to serve their potato salad at room temperature. I call those people weird. Cold is the way to go, in my opinion.

ENJOY IT. Be sure to enjoy the potato salad. I’m personally serving it this evening with some Nathan’s hot dogs (see the very first photo). A quick and easy dinner for a busy day. There is no shame in that! But, it goes perfectly well with a multitude of grilled and smoked items. So, just walk by that container of pre-made potato salad. Give it the silent treatment. Relish in the fact that you made your own potato salad and it’s damn good.

* These ingredients certainly brake the bank, don’t they? That must be why many restaurants feel like they can’t make their own…

** Please do yourself a favor and cook the potatoes AND the eggs at the same time, but in different pots (clearly). It will take you forever to make this if you don’t do this. Also, while they are cooking, get all of your other ingredients together and ready to go. Once the potatoes and eggs are finished, there will be only 10 minutes left in the process. Cook smart!