Collard greens are a green large loose leaf vegetable in the same family as broccoli and cabbage, though it more closely resembles kale and spring greens. Collards are a good source of vitamin C and soluble fiber, and also contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties. It is a relatively thick leaf with a thick fibrous stem in the middle. You basically use your knife to follow the sides of the stem to cut it out.
Make a short stack of cut leaves and then do a rough chop. Some folks like to roll the leaves and do a chiffonade but I like my food more rustic, plus this is easier for everyone.
I use the OXO brand salad spinner, this model is a few years old but still works like a champ. I take the basket piece to hold my cut collards.
Once all the collards are destemmed and chopped I rinse them off in the sink, shake the basket a bit, then rinse again. If your collards are a little wilted, you just need to soak them in cold water for a bit. This works with a variety of veggies! Once you are happy the greens are sufficiently rinsed, pop them into the spinner and blast away. I again do it twice just to get out as much water as possible.
Now we need to get the fat we are cooking these in, BACON! Get out 3 or 4 slices of bacon (smoked thick slice is best) and chop into small pieces. Get out the pan you are using to cook your greens in, I usually pick a tall enough pan to hold all the greens and one that has a lid. Over medium low heat get the bacon cooking, we need to render out the fat to cook the greens in. A vegetarian variation would be to use olive oil or your favorite cooking oil.
Once your bacon is good and cooked add your greens, reducing the heat to low. Give them a good stir trying to coat all the greens with fat. Cover and let the heat and steam do work. No salt at this time as the greens are reducing and a little salt could turn into a lot of salt. Plus the bacon has a natural salty flavor it is imparting to the greens.
Turn occasionally to avoid any burning, plus getting the hot fat on all the leaves will aid the wilting process. After a couple of minutes add a splash or two of a light vinegar, I use rice vinegar.
After 30 minutes you should see something like this:
Taste and season with salt and pepper, more vinegar or a shot of hot sauce.
And finally the finished product:
With the Super Bowl coming up, I decided to make some wings since it has been a while since I’ve had some. My favorite watering hole closed and I haven’t ventured out to find a new one. So in the meantime…
- 1/2 C oil, vegetable or neutral in flavor
- 2 C soy sauce
- 2 C dry sherry
- 1 C honey
- 2 T ground ginger
- 1 T garlic powder
- 2 T dry mustard
- 1 T onion powder
- 1 T fresh ginger, minced
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T onion, minced
- 1 t cayenne chile powder (optional)
Mix all ingredients together in a pot of sufficient size. If cooking in a smoker baste with sauce several times. If cooking on a high heat grill baste once. When crispy they are done!
- 3 scallions, rough chop
- 4 large garlic cloves, rough chop
- 1 small onion, rough chop
- 4 to 5 fresh Scotch Bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
- 1/4 C fresh lime juice
- 1/4 C cider vinegar
- 1/4 C dark rum
- 2 T soy sauce
- 3 T oil, neutral flavor is best
- 1 T salt
- 1 T minced fresh ginger (1 t if ginger powder)
- 1 T packed brown sugar
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- 2 t ground allspice
- 2 t black pepper
- 3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 t cinnamon
Place all the ingredients into a blender and mix until you get a relatively smooth paste. Don’t over kill it. Stop and scrape a couple of times to make sure everything is blended equally. Add just a little bit of water if it seems too thick or it is not blending properly. For an extra level of flavor lightly toast the spices (allspice, black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon) in a small saute pan over low heat before adding them. The heat helps to release the essential oils to fully bring out the spices flavor. If you are new to Scotch Bonnet/Habanero peppers you might want to air on the side of caution and use only 1 or 2. The first time I made it I used a couple jalapenos and a couple serrano peppers. The scallions along with a white onion give a nice well rounded onion flavor.
Put your chicken and marinade in a plastic bag and then place it in a leakproof container. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and even up to 24 hours. The longer the meat is exposed to the marinade, the more flavor you get. You can even mash the meat and marinade around every few hours to ensure complete coverage.
You can grill or smoke the chicken, my preference is usually smoked but that little charring you get from grilling is phenomenal. In Jamaica the smoke flavor comes from meat seasoned with pimento spice (allspice) placed on top of a bed of pimento leaves, and pimento wood sticks. Then the meat is slowly barbecued over the fire. Pimento wood is the wood of the Jamaican allspice tree, found only in Jamaica.
Now if you are lucky enough to have been to Jamaica, and have been fortunate enough to enjoy jerk chicken (or shrimp or fish or…) then you’ll appreciate the genuine smoky flavor of pimento wood along with the tangy spice of pimento leaves and berries.
Jerk Chicken is believed to have been conceived when the Maroons introduced African meat cooking techniques to Jamaica which were combined with native Jamaican ingredients and seasonings used by the Arawak. The method of smoking meat for a long period of time served two practical purposes: keeping insects away from the raw meat and preserving it for longer once it has been cooked. This process also introduces a strong smoky flavor to the meat.
There are two commonly held theories regarding how the name “Jerk” came to be used. One is that it originated from the Spanish word “Charqui” which described dried meat. Over time this term evolved from “Charqui” to “Jerky” to “Jerk”. There is another theory that the name is derived from the practice of jerking (poking) holes in the meat to fill with spices prior to cooking. Nowadays, the word “Jerk” is used as a noun to describe the seasoning applied to jerked food and as a verb to describe the process of cooking used.