As my frequent readers know, I have a hate-hate relationship with vegetables. We were a meat and gnocchi family when I was growing up, but once in a while my parents decided that we needed to eat vegetables. They would then proceed to make puré de espinacas, or spinach puree – a combination of boxed mashed potatoes and boiled spinach (or most often Swiss chard, as it was significantly cheaper) put in the electric blender until a disgusting green mush was formed. They would then force us to eat it – and I do mean force us. They’d threaten us, hit us and even physically close our mouths if we didn’t eat it. More than once we ended up throwing it up (which only made them madder). This is definitely one of my childhood traumas, and as a result of it my siblings and I don’t eat vegetables (my youngest sister, born much later and not subjected to such torture is a happy veggie eater).
Slowly, however, I’ve been trying to overcome this trauma – making myself eat roots, mushrooms, salads and the like. But cooked veggies have been difficult – until a few months ago when, prompted by moans of pleasure by my fellow diners at a girl’s nights out at Mua in Oakland, I tried their version of collard greens and fell in love. The soupy, softish veggies had been cooked with bacon (and I don’t know what else) and had a very strong smoky flavor that I loved. I wanted to make them myself, and Christmas Eve seemed to be the perfect opportunity.
I didn’t find Mua’s recipe, but I hoped this one from epicurious.com would be close enough. Alas, it wasn’t. The resulting greens were pretty good – I still ate them – but they didn’t have the smokyness and didn’t end up with a broth. I enjoyed them well enough during dinner, but nobody had seconds and we didn’t eat the leftovers.
I followed the recipe below closely, but I used half as much collard greens (4 lbs is way too much, even 2 lbs were more than twice as much as we needed for 6 people eating it as a side). If I made this recipe again, I’d probably also use more bacon.
Collard Greens with Red Onions and Bacon
Cook bacon until crisp over medium heat in a large pot. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off and discard all but 3 Tbsp. bacon fat from the pot. Put the pot back on the heat and add chopped onions. Cook until soft and brownish, stirring occasionally. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add broth, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and half of the reserved bacon. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add half of the collard greens and cook, tossing, until lightly wilted. Add the remaining collard greens and mix in. Simmer the collard greens, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the reserved onions, mix in, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes. Place in serving dish and top with remaining bacon.
Christmas Eve 2010 Menu
Marga’s Best Recipes