One GRITS Journey To Convert Beloved Southern Recipes to Paleo Approved, and Darn GOOD too!

This is my story of how I am striving to change my family's life, nutritionally, for the better. Here in the deep South Paleo is a foreign word. No one has heard of it, and gluten free is really almost as unheard of...
After reading Gary Taubes enlightning GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES I was determine to change! Armed with my own two hands, the internet (thank God for, and all those wonderful blogs and podcasts available now, I am beginning my journey.
Please feel free to join me as I try to adapt all of our Southern Favorites into Paleo Appropriate Scrumptiousness!!! (and all Gluten Free) I will try to post all of the good ones, and may even blog about some failures along the way.

17 February 2011

Collard Nirvana

If you are not from the Deep South, and I mean the REAL SOUTH, then you probably have never experienced Collard Nirvana. You may think you have had collards, you may even think you like collards, but Bubba you don't know anything until you have had real down south Gullah style collards.
I got this recipe years and years ago, from some one who got it from someone who's grandmomma's help was gullah, I think... Or else I got it from a Gullah cookbook... First story sounds better, and since I never have cooked from a recipe, but more from hands on practice and stories, we will stick with that.

This recipe is not fast, but then no one ever claimed any true Southern Recipe to be fast. In the Good Ol' South Good things Come to Those Who Wait, and Recipes are no exception.

The best tend to take awhile... but hey, that just gives us Southern Women time to chat, or tell stories...

Collard Nirvana

(more of a method than a recipe)

1 large bunch collard greens, stems cut out, collards roughly chopped ( washed well ya'll- don't want gritty sand in our nirvana experience now)
1 large vidalia, or other sweet onion, cut down middle with stem intact, and peeled
2 ham hocks
water ( room temp water, you will have to eye ball this one- more later)
salt/pepper to taste
apple cider vinegarf or hot pepper vinegar to taste ( a couple tablespoons is usually enough for initial flavoring of pot, then people can do more on individual plates)
3T bacon fat, or lard ( i like the bacon fat flavor better here, but whatever floats your boat)

First, melt the bacon fat in a heavy bottom large pot ( like a lg dutch oven or soup pot)  and then brown the ham hocks on all sides well.
Next cover ham hocks with water, almost to half way up you pot, (unless you have a really tall pot, use your judegment, the goal here is that we are gonna simmer down till only half of your water is left before we put collards in....)  At this point add in  your onion halves. Bring water to a boil, then immediatly turn to simmer. Simmer for 45 min to an hour, watching closely. Again, the goal here is to REDUCE your liquid by half.  So SIMMER AWAY until you accomplish this. Stir Occasionally.
Add in your collards ( that are very clean and free of grit) and stir until they are reduced down and all covered by liquid. At this point put on your lid half way and continue to simmer. You will simmer anywhere from 30 min to over an hour. This time varies depending on your collards. Are they big? Smaller leaf? Very fresh? What time of year collards?etc.... So just watch them and taste occasionally to see how tender. (Also note that simmering a little longer will only develop flavor, so not don't go getting your panites in a wad here ya'll....)
At this point you add in your salt and pepper, and the vinegar of choice for flavor. Stir. Taste. Adjust.
Pull out the remains of hamhock. Shred with fork and return. Discard bone. Pull out what part of onion is still stuck to stem and toss.
Now for  your nirvana, its all ready. All flavors combined. Your kitchen smells like a little slice of heaven, You are ready to put a straw in the juice and just drink it down it the arouma is so divine!! I swear! The time spent reducing your ham hock water down makes all the difference in the world!!!!
Serve with hot pepper vinegar for those who would like some additional heat.

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