Thursday, December 30, 2010
New Year's Day Collards
The lore surrounding the importance of these good luck, prosperity-producing ingredients varies, but here's the basic thought:
- Greens bring prosperity in the form of dollar bills
- Pork represents the future because hogs can't turn their heads to look back
- Rice signifies abundance
- Black-eyed Peas bring prosperity in the form of coins
I always start the new year with a big pot of greens served over Hoppin' John (which is a hearty rice and black-eyed pea combo), hitting all four of the special components.
This recipe's an update to the collards my Mema made every New Year's Day (they were a true childhood favorite). She used a smoked hock, sugar, and hot sauce to flavor her greens. I get my subtle, sweet-tart flavor from caramelized carrots and balsamic vinegar, and a little heat from red pepper flakes. I've also made it a tad healthier by using fat-free chicken broth, which gives my recipe a cleaner tasting potlikker, which is just as important as the greens. (A bowl of creamy grits topped with a ladleful of potlikker and some of the collards is my idea of comfort food.)
4 strips center-cut bacon
1 large carrot, diced
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 (1-lb.) packages fresh collard greens, washed, thick stems removed, and chopped
1 1/2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Cook bacon in Dutch oven until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings in pot. Drain bacon on paper towel; crumble and reserve.
Cook carrot in hot drippings over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until carrot and onion begin to caramelize. Add garlic and vinegar; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add collards, reserved bacon, and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours or until collards are tender.
I hope y'all enjoy the greens. Let me know what you think. Happy new year! Scott