28 June 2009

A pot of collard greens

We've gotten back into the garden. There's a lot of weeding to be done. Luckily, we are having hot, dry weather, and that makes it easier to keep up with it all. There's also a lot to harvest already, especially greens like chard and collards.

Yesterday morning I finally got out there to start thinning out my two rows of collard greens. The problem with that kind of work is that you can't just pull out three of every four plants. You have to trim, wash, and cook the plants you pull out. At least I do. I can't bring myself to just throw them into the compost.

Our "greens patch" — chard, collards, and mustard greens

So it takes a good part of the day to process the greens you get from thinning just one row. This morning I have to go out and thin the other one. Thinning out the plants also means pulling all the weeds that have taken hold under them and between the rows. I hope the remaining plants will grow strong and bushy.

A chair on the deck is a good place to sit while you
sort through collard plants, discarding wilted and
blemished leaves and cutting off the roots.

Walt and I love greens of all kinds. I thinned out a row of mustard greens a week or 10 days ago. We cooked those, packed them into plastic containers that we've been saving for a couple of years, and put them in the freezer. There were two or three quarts of them once they were cooked.

You end up with a big "bouquet" of collards
and some trimmings for the compost pile.

Don't eat the geranium.

Now I have three quarts of cooked collard greens ready to go into the freezer too. Collard greens require long, slow cooking — even for the tender young leaves I picked yesterday. I put them in a big pot with a little water, a little white wine (for sweetness), some salt and pepper, and some duck fat.

Wash the leaves in a couple of waters to remove sand and
bugs. There's nothing worse than eating greens and
feeling sand crunch between your teeth.

I also had a piece of smoked ham that Martine (Ladybird) brought us from Belgium last week. I put that into the pot with the greens. The pot stayed on the burner on low for about four hours. At the end of the cooking, I shredded the ham and mixed the meat in with the greens.

These collard plants were so young and tender that I put the stems
and ribs right in the pot with them. Using kitchen scissors, I finely
chopped it all up after it was cooked so that it didn't look so stringy.

I suppose collard greens are an acquired taste. If they aren't cooked right, they can taste bitter. Some people add some sugar to them as they cook, but I prefer wine. And in the U.S. South, greens are cooked with bacon grease, which gives them flavor and good texture. I often use duck fat here in France because that's what I have.


  1. Hi Ken, I'm happy to read that our piece of 'sanglocheon' ended up in one of your favourite dishes. I hope you'll enjoy it. Martine

  2. "A chair on the deck is a good place to sit while you sort through collard plants."

    Sounds just like eastern North Carolina, n'est-ce pas? ;-)


  3. I too love greens of any kind. I am glad you are have good weather, here in Mississippi it just hotter than Hades. I traveled the whole neighborhood in search of a pool with cool water in it, no luck.

    I was amused that last year, half way around the world I was having the same trouble with my tomatoes as you. I hope we have better luck this year.

  4. Martine, I'm glad you think we used the "sanglochon" ham the right way. We haven't eaten it yet, but it smelled really good as it cooked.

    BettyAnn, yes, just like Eastern N.C. That's where I learned it, I guess.

    Kendall, our tomatoes are doing great so far this year. And the greens are beautiful and productive. Let's hope this kind of weather continues.

  5. I never had collard greens until a couple of years ago. A lot of work to make but delicious. Next year's garden will hopefully have collards and mustard greens.

  6. The greens and the terrace look great!

    (my verification word is: i rest.... where? On the terrace!)

  7. No offense, Martine, but I prefer duck fat to pork. I love greens, too... but way to hot tonight to even think about cooking. Cool, leftover chicken 4 me.

  8. The duck fat is good but it just ain't greens without a chunk of smoked or salted pork in the pot. After all, I'm the one who added the ham to the collards, not anybody else. And besides, duck fat plus pork — heaven, no?

  9. Oh, and it is steamy hot here too. You have to do your cooking early in the morning, before the day heats up. What a luxury to have such hot weather! Open all the windows, open all the doors, and bask in it. Sit outside in shorts and a T-shirt until midnight.


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