“Collard greens’ affinity for beer is amazing,” writes Fred Thompson in his new cookbook, “Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides: 250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate” (UNC Press, $35). “Something from the hoppiness of beer seems to deepen and sweeten the flavor of collards and to tenderize them in some weird way. This is a really good method to use on ‘pre-frostbitten’ collards, which generally seem to need a little flavor boost. If you have a vegetarian in your family, leave out the meat, up the amount of onions, and you’ll get a smokiness that’s very appealing and satisfying.”
I didn’t have a smoked chicken wing on hand when I tried this recipe, so I used some country ham instead. It made for two types of pork in the recipe, but no one minded.
Beer-Braised Collard Greens
3 slices thick-cut hickory-smoked bacon
2 large onions, chopped
1 smoked chicken wing
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound collard greens, stemmed and torn
12 ounces beer (not “lite”; for a bolder experience use a dark beer)
Cook the bacon slowly in a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat, and drain on paper towels. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent and soft. Add the chicken wing, cayenne pepper, and chicken broth. bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Stir in the collards until they’ve all wilted into the pot likker. Slowly add the beer and stir gently to combine. Cook uncovered for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the collards are tender. Remove the chicken wing. Pull off any meat, chop it finely, and stir it back into the collards. Crumble and stir in the bacon. Serve immediately.
Makes 6-8 servings.
From “Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides” by Fred Thompson