2 1/2 pounds of fresh collard greens
3 cups of coarsely chopped onions
3 (or more, if you like) garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper
About 3 cups of ham pieces, and/or a hambone or two
2 cups of chicken stock + 1 cup of water
A dash of tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce (or a few pepper flakes)
Saute the onions and garlic in vegetable oil or bacon grease until translucent. Add the salt, pepper, (and any other seasonings your taste buds like!). Add the meat of your choice and cook for several minutes. Add the collards and the broth or stock and simmer (NOT BOIL !!) for about an hour.
Be flexible and try different seasonings and meats (or even NO MEAT!) Let us know what you did and how you liked it.
Oils: Using other oils or fats/greases for sauteing the onions and garlic will change the flavor slightly. Try using lard, coconut oil, bacon or fatback drippings. Stay away from strongly flavored oils, but the choice is yours.
Onions: Mild white onions are preferable, but use yellow or red onions for a stronger onion flavor. Shallots will impart a sweeter flavor and leeks or green onions an even milder flavor. Use more or less onions to your taste.
Meats: For vegetarians, collards are delicious without meat or meat stock. However that wouldn't be "Southern Style" would it? You can use other meats of your choice, but if salted or salt cured, use sparingly! For a slightly different flavor, a couple of smoked turkey legs is an excellent addition!
Seasonings: Use your favorite variety of salt and pepper. (Non-iodized salt is preferred.) For spicy flavor use Tabasco, Louisiana Hot Sauce, or pepper flakes. For stronger, spicier flavor finely chop one or two jalapeño peppers or a small habañero pepper. Be careful with spicy seasonings, they will quickly overpower the flavor of the greens!
Greens: The collards can be replaced entirely with Kale. Vary the flavor of the greens by using some leaves from other brassicas like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts. Mixtures of other greens such as mustard or turnip greens can be added, but they may add a stronger flavor to the final mixture.
Final Notes: (1) Collards seem to have a better flavor if they are harvested after the first frost. Simulate this by freezing the fresh greens overnight before cooking them. (2) Most people think collard greens taste better "the second time around". Try cooking this recipe and putting the finished product in the fridge for a day or two then re-heating. (3) Some people are repulsed by the smell of collards cooking. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to reduce the strong smell without changing the flavor of the collards.