COLLARDS, KOD'S QUICKIE COLLARDS
Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
by Kim O'Donnel
Most folks assume you need to set aside hours to cook up a pot of greens, and I'm urging you not to believe the hype. Many of us grew up eating green vegetables cooked until no longer recognizable, which is probably why they tasted so terrible. When trimmed of the tough ribs and stems (which do take a long time to soften), collard leaves need just about 30 minutes in a seasoned liquid to relax and make you forget all about the traditional ham hock—and unrecognizable veg—of yesteryear.
Kitchen Notes: The greens may be sandy and require a few washings. The reason behind the smaller strips is so the collards can cook more quickly (ergo the "quickie" claim).
Makes 4 to 5 side-dish servings
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 medium-size onion, chopped finely
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 small fresh Chile pepper of your choice, seeded and diced, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (fresh will yield spicier results)
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 2 pounds collard greens, trimmed of stems and middle ribs and cut into 2 x 4-inch strips (about 6 cups)
• 4 cups water or veg stock (Rapunzel no-salt bouillon cubes are a personal favorite)
• Soy sauce
• Ground black pepper
• Cider vinegar (optional)
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and Chile pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the smoked paprika; it's okay for the mixture to be pasty.
Add the greens to the pot and allow to wilt. Using a pair of tongs, turn the greens and coat with the aromatics. Add the liquid gradually—to barely meet the level of the greens. If the greens are properly sub- merged and you have leftover liquid, reserve it for later if necessary. Bring to a lively simmer, then lower the heat and coax the greens into submission.
Cook until the greens arrive at your desired tenderness. They may be done in 25 minutes, but it's okay to go until 40 minutes or so. See what you think.
Season with soy sauce (go gradually and taste), pepper, and if using, a spritz of cider vinegar.