Cast Iron Collard Greens
Somehow braised veggies won the poll last week. I, for sure, thought steak would take it, but I’m biased because cast iron steak is one of my favorite things to cook in the winter. Shows you what I know!
Anyway, it did give me a chance to try out a dish that a friend brought for Thanksgiving. I didn’t get a chance to really investigate the dish before I was deep in my food coma, but I did remember having seconds of it. So it must’ve been good!
The problem with this particular friend (Hi Matt) is that he tends to just freestyle recipes. So when I asked him for the recipe for the dish, he wrote back with something along the lines of:
“I cooked an onion and some garlic and then add some vinegar and greens. Then I added some other stuff like tomatoes and goat cheese and some spices. There was some other stuff also in it.”
I got reasonably close to his dish I think. In truth, it is a pretty flexible dish and one that you could freestyle also if you were feeling the urge.
Braised Collard Greens
Yield: Serves 4-6.
1/2 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 large bunch collard greens (about 6 cups chopped)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup cream
Cast Iron Skillet
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add a drizzle of oil to a cast iron skillet (or any oven-safe heavy pot or pan) over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook for a few minutes to soften them, being careful not to brown them.
2) Add in garlic and cook for another minute. Then add vinegar and use the liquid to deglaze pan, scraping up any stuck bits.
3) Add spices and stir well. Then chop well-washed collard greens and add to pan along with tomatoes. Stir together, cover with heavy lid or foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
4) Remove lid or foil, stir in cream, and return to oven, uncovered, for fifteen minutes.
5) Season greens with salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce over rice or as a side dish.
Besides some diced onion and celery, I decided to go big on the garlic for my version. Super-garlicky greens are delicious and so I put in literally almost as much garlic as onion and celery for this version.
When it comes to the greens, I like collard greens because they are sturdy. You could also use chard though. There are a few things to note about collard greens:
1) Wash them well. They have a serious ability to retain dirt in tiny creases.
2) They are super bitter. As you cook them, this bitterness cooks out slightly which is why you need to cook them for a good amount of time.
3) They are really sturdy. The leaves are nice and thick and can stand up to a lot of heat and time.
Starting the Dish
I used my 12 inch cast iron skillet for this but you could use any heavy pot or dish that is oven safe.
Add the oil to the skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and celery for a few minutes until they start to soften. Then add the garlic. If you add the garlic at the same time as the onion it will probably burn which is no good.
Once the veggies have cooked for 4-5 minutes and are soft, add the vinegar and use it to deglaze the pan – scraping up any bits that are stuck.
Then add all the spices. The greens need a lot of flavor so don’t be afraid to go big on the spices here.
Once the spices are added and stirred together, add in the greens, diced tomatoes, and stock. If you’re like me, this will just barely fit in your skillet. That’s okay though because it will cook down as the greens cook.
If you’re lucky enough to have a sturdy lid for your pot, more power to you. I just cover my skillet with a few pieces of foil though before putting it in the oven.
Covering the dish traps all the moisture and flavors and ensures that the greens don’t dry out.
Bake this thing in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
When it comes out the greens should be wilted nicely.
Add the cream to the dish and season it with salt and pepper. It’ll probably need a good pinch of both.
Then add it back to the oven uncovered to cook for another 15 minutes. The greens will be pretty liquidy at this point so an extra 15 minutes will help some of that liquid cook off and thicken.
You could eat these greens as a side dish or Betsy and I made a meal out of them and just served them over rice.
They are grate sprinkled with some Parmesan cheese and a good dash of hot sauce.
This is the first time I’ve made a collard greens recipe for Macheesmo! Do you like them?