Monday, January 21, 2013

Spicy Collard Greens

Spicy Collard Greens
Years ago my dad took me to Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe, a Mecca for ‘Soul Food’ in Phoenix.  On each table was a little bottle of Trappy’s brand Tabasco chiles.  The bottles were so old that the labels were half worn off, and the chiles inside the bottles were no longer yellow.  They were almost white as if they had been on the tables for years.  I asked my dad about this. He explained the peppers weren’t for eating; that every night the owner would fill these bottles back up with white vinegar.  And everyday his customers come in and drizzle the spicy vinegar over the greens.
I quote the movie ‘Giant’, starring Liz Taylor and Rock Hudson.  Hudson’s character 'Bick' Benedict Jr. when explaining why he is attracted to the independent and aggressive ‘Leslie,’ played by Taylor, says, “Down here we like a little vinegar on our greens!”

Greens are delicious, but add a little pepper vinegar and they come alive with a flavor.

Notice that this is called "Pepper Sauce,"not Tabasco Peppers! Clues… always look for clues to the good life, they're everywhere.

2 Tbl. Olive oil
½ white onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic
1/2 pound smoked ham hocks 
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Crushed red chile
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbl. hot red pepper sauce 
1 large bunch collard greens 
1 Tbl. butter

In a large stockpot, sauté the onion and garlic, in the oil, until soft but not browned.  Add 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil.  Add ham hocks, spices, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Wash the collard greens thoroughly. Remove the stems from the center of the larger leaves. The stems of the smaller leaves are tender and don’t need to be removed.  Tear the greens into ½-inch thick strips. Place greens in the stockpot with the ham hock and add the butter. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Check to make sure the greens are tender, adjust seasoning and serve with a slotted spoon and don’t forget the white vinegar. 
Serves 4-6

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