Is there a dish as synonymous with Southern food as collard greens? This simple, flavorful recipe from recipe writer and blogger Ty Peay of On Ty’s Plate only requires ten minutes of prep time and will fill your kitchen with the delicious smells of home cooking while the greens slowly simmer to perfection. "My grandmother and aunties make these greens every holiday," Peay says. Unlike some traditional recipes, though, Peay says, "I use smoked turkey wings instead of turkey necks or ham hocks." Like all good things, collard greens take time and patience: Peay’s top tip for getting this recipe right is to remember that it is a slow braise.
So, want to try out this simple and easy recipe for yourself? Let’s take a look at how easy it is to whip up a batch of good old-fashioned collard greens any Southern grandma would be proud of. Even the kids might like this recipe.
Gather your ingredients to make these collard greens
For this recipe, you’ll need two pounds of collard greens, trimmed and cut. Peay recommends using pre-cut greens. They’re pre-washed and come either shredded or chopped. If you do use whole collard greens, start by soaking them in cold water for a ten minutes. Give the greens a final rinse and gentle rub under cool water. Next, carefully remove the stem with a knife. Finally, stack three to four leaves, rolled tightly, and cut them into one-inch ribbons. Gather and slice the stems into quarter-inch rounds.
You’ll need one whole smoked turkey wing, one chopped yellow onion, four crushed cloves of garlic, and two tablespoons of canola oil. You also need three crushed chicken bouillon cubes, one teaspoon of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. You might also want to add some red pepper flakes if you like a bit of spice. According to Peay, they "add more flavor than heat."
You can definitely use chicken stock instead of chicken bouillon and water, but Peay recommends using bouillon cubes. "I suggest using the cubes because the flavor is more concentrated in the broth," she says.
Cook the collard greens
In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in the canola oil over medium heat. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, bouillon cubes, smoked turkey wing, and two and a half cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover, letting the pot simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of low-and-slow cooking, add the collard greens, and simmer for another hour. After the collard greens have been in the pot for about thirty minutes, remove the turkey wing and stir the greens, rotating the top leaves into the broth.
Once you’ve returned the pot to the stove, carefully remove the turkey wing meat from the bone. If necessary, let the turkey wing cool for as long as necessary. Discard the skin and bones, and then add the turkey meat back to the pot.
If you’re using red pepper flakes, add them to the pot with the turkey meat as well. You’ll know that the collard greens are done when they’re tender and dark in color.
Serve the collard greens
Collard greens can be served as a side dish, but they can also be a main dish, especially when made with a whole turkey wing. Peay recommends using the whole wing because it offers more meat throughout the dish and makes collard greens a whole meal instead of just a side dish. As to whether or not to use the wing tip, Peay says it’s a person choice: "It does add more flavor because it’s pretty fatty."
Hot sauce and vinegar are the usual condiments of choice to serve alongside collard greens. "White distilled vinegar is best, but apple cider vinegar can be substituted," Peay says. "The white vinegar has a sharper taste than ACV that compliments the collards better."
In addition to vinegar and hot sauce, make sure to serve your collard greens with plenty of pot-likker (pot liquor), a.k.a. the leftover liquid in the pot, in the bowl. "Unlike other vegetables, people don’t mind if the juices run into other foods on their plate," Peay says. "The broth is just as important as the greens."
You should also retain these juices when freezing or refrigerating collard greens.