This recipe is one of the few times I commit pesceterian heresy and cook with meat. I've tried smoked paprika, imitation smoked bacon bits, and liquid smoke several times for smoke flavor, but there just is no replacement for the smokiness of smoked meat in a pot of greens. Since I wasn't cooking for anyone else in particular, I had plenty of leeway so I took the leap and grabbed some smoked turkey necks while shopping at the market.
Right after cooking these, I came across this Commercial Appeal article on the most "southern" of all foods. I was just as surprised with the foods mentioned on the list as I was with the ones omitted. When their extensive panel weighed in, there seemed to be an overwhelming consensus that greens, potlikker, fried green tomatoes, okra, cornbread, barbecue, pork, chicken and dumplings, biscuits, and grits were the most southern of all foods. I was very surprised that more people mentioned greens than any other food. While I love greens and tend to associate them with southern food, I always thought they were eaten all over the country. I was also quite surprised that there was no mention of catfish considering the South's dominance in catfish farming. My list would also include chitlins, chow chow, sweet potato pie, sweet tea, pecans, muscadines, and fried chicken.
Spicy Southern Collard Greens
- 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
- 1 lb smoked turkey (any cut)
- 1 red onion, halved
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 2 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 lbs fresh collard greens, washed, stews removed, rolled, and chopped
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the smoked turkey and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes. Add the onion havles, cut sides down, and brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the vegetable broth. Season with chili flakes, salt, vinegar, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Adjust seasoning, if desired. Add the collard greens and minced garlic. Stir to combine and cover. Cook until greens are tender for about 45 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a teaspoon of chow chow. Enjoy!
Cook's Note: The longer your greens cook, the more nutritious the potlikker/broth/liquid becomes (assuming you haven't loaded it up with salt). It's best to sop it up with cornbread or lap it up with a soup spoon.