Pickled Collard Stems

  • 1 gallon glass container with lid or smaller jars
  • Stems from 2 bunches of collards, trimmed to 1 inch shorter than glass jar
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapenos
  • 1 gallon filtered water
  • 3/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Pack jar tightly with stems, onions, and spices. Bring water, salt, and vinegar to a low boil. Remove brine from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Pour brine over veggies, making sure brine covers everything. Place a fermentation weight over the top to prevent as much contact between the air and the brine surface, or rig up something of your own that will serve the same purpose not the lid though.

Let your container sit at room temperature for 3-5 days, until your stems have the perfect saltiness, flavor, and crunchiness. When they reach that point, trade the weight for a lid and place the whole container in the fridge. Your pickled stems will last several weeks or less depending how much you enjoy them.

Seasoning Meat for Greens

 

“TOO MANY PEOPLE THINK MEAT, often fried meat, sits at the center of the Southern plate. Maybe it does today, but historically we ate large pieces of meat once or twice a week. The rest of the time, cooks used “seasoning meat” as a condiment—a means to round out a vegetable-and-grain-focused meal. Seasoning meat is usually pork, but never a fancy cut. Instead, it is every nook, cranny, nugget, and bone salted, smoked, or ground into sausage to lend flavor to pots of anything you can boil.”

~ Vivian Howard

Air-Dried Sausage: The seasoning meat of choice in Eastern North Carolina.  The tang and funk is unforgettable.

Smoked Pig Tails: An often overlooked option.  These little morsels will give off a lot of flavor especially if you have them split it half.

Smoked Pig Trotters: That’s pig’s feet to most of us.  Have the butcher split them in half so they give up their fat and flavor.

Smoked Ham Hocks: This is the seasoning meat everyone thinks of when making collards or other greens.  That’s for good reason As hocks offer flavor, body, and good-size chunks of meat.  It takes a long Cooking time to coax the flavor and meat out of these, but it’s time we’ll spent.  Oh and then the potlikker.

Smoked Neck Bones: These nuggets do double duty as seasoning meat and centerpiece.  They have a almost obsessive following that loves to gnaw at the luscious bits of meat.

Belly Bacon or Jowl Bacon: Bacon is typically made from the belly, but their cousin jowl bacon is fattier and more flavorful.  Both are a cured and smoked meat that can either be rendered in the pot before water is added or simply added with the water.  You might consider rendering half of it and then adding the rest with the water for a more complex seasoning.

Fatback: It’s just what it sounds like the fat from the back of the pig.  If you’re going to use it as seasoning meat first cure it in salt and treat as you would bacon.  It can also be used to make lard, but not as coveted as leaf lard.

Pickled Pork: A staple of Creole and Cajun cooking that is often added to red beans and rice.  Usually made from Pork butt or pork belly.

Smoked Country Ham: If you have a limitless budget this is an option.  It lacks fat for the most part and thus won’t add as much flavor.  A better place for it is as the centerpiece of a meal, on a biscuit or with grits.  It’s up to you though if you wish to experiment.

Quick Miso Collard Greens

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This is a combination of two of my very favorite ingredients. I love Collard greens and a good quality miso is something to be treasured.  For some reason America doesn’t seem to have mastered Miso, so if you can get your hands on true Japanese Miso at not too much of a cost by all means do so.

These are very different from the slow cooked collars with a smoked seasoning meat you might be used to.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large bunches (8 to 10 ounces each) collards, stemmed and roughly chopped.  Save the stems for pickled collard stems.
½ cup water
3 tablespoons red miso paste
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter in the skillet and continue to heat it until it foams up and then clears again, a couple of minutes. Add the greens and water, and increase the heat to medium-high. Cover the pan and let cook, stirring once or twice, until the greens begin to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat.

Hold back the greens, pour most of the pan liquid into a small bowl. Measure the miso into a separate bowl and add a splash of the greens’ cooking liquid. Stir and repeat until you have a thin paste. Add the miso mixture back to the pan, along with the garlic. Put the pan back over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the miso mixture coats the greens, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with some hot sauce if desired.