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Peace, Love and Collard Greens

With the dawn of every new year, there are some constants: fireworks, midnight kisses, watching the ball drop and heaps of collard greens. What? You don’t look forward to New Years Day JUST so that you can pile your plate with greens and eat them until you pass out?? Okay, so I guess that’s just me. Down South, we have a tradition: New Years Day= pork, blackeyed peas and collard greens. The blackeyed peas are supposed to represent luck and the greens represent money for your new year. The pork just represents pork being tasty. I look forward to this meal every year, even though it takes a bazillion hours to make because it’s amazing. I didn’t make it myself last year since I was on bed rest, but my mom did make it for me. Yay for moms!

Since it has come to my attention that there are a lot of people out there who think that they don’t like collard greens, I thought it would be fun to teach one and all how to make awesome Southern greens. I promise, if you think you don’t like them, you just haven’t eaten them cooked the RIGHT way. A lot of restaurants around here serve them, and, well, they’re not so good. It’s because they’re too bitter- they don’t know the secret: getting rid of the stalk and parboiling. My dad makes the best freaking collard greens on the planet, and he taught me how to do them, just like his mom taught him. And they’re darn good, y’all.

So here it is: get ready.



Two bunches of fresh collard greens (a bunch is usually two “clumps” tied together)
8 strips of Bacon (or you can use hog jowls… don’t freak out, they’re not that scary)
Palmful of salt
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Step 1: Cut leaves off of stalks. You’ll be left with this:

2) Fill sink with water, pile leaves in sink. Swish around to wash and remove gritty dirt and sandy stuff. These are technical terms, guys.

3) Take a leaf, spread it open and lay it on your cutting board, like so.

4) Here is where the special technique comes into play. Run your knife alongside the stalk from about where I have my knife, all the way down. Do this on both sides until the stalk is cut free.

5) Remove stalk.

6) Fold collard leaf in half long-ways.

7) Roll it like you were rolling a cigar.  I have no experience in cigar-rolling, FYI.

8) Slice your collard cigar in one-inch strips.

9) Repeat until all greens are cut. Pile all of your pieces into a stockpot. Fill the pot with water so that you can just see the water at the top of the greens. Like in the picture below. Then, you’re going to bring it to a boil and let it go over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. This is called parboiling and is the secret to non-bitter greens. Don’t you feel privileged and special to know THE SECRET?? I thought you might.

10) The water should be green after the 15 minutes is up. Drain greens. Meanwhile, add your bacon into the same stockpot while your leaves are draining. Cook it up until it looks like this:

11) Now, dump your greens back in the pot with the bacon and grease. Don’t you dare drain that grease! It’s what makes the greens delicious. I never said these were low-fat or vegetarian, you may recall. 🙂 Put fresh water into your pot, about 8 cups. Add your palmful of salt (seems like a lot, but this is a lot of water and a lot of greens), about 10 cracks of fresh black pepper (or a teaspoon if you don’t have a grinder) and  a good teaspoon of garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer (low to medium low heat) for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I let mine go for 1 1/2, just taste them after 1 and see if they’re too tough.

12) Then, it’s time to EAT them! My mouth is watering, even though I’ve been eating these leftovers for two days in a row. In case you’re wondering, that’s the whole shebang: pork roast, spaetzle (not Southern, but my Grandma was from Luxembourg and we make it all the time) collard greens and blackeyed peas all smothered with pork roast gravy. I gained at least five pounds over the weekend, but that is okay.

I hope you guys try this and LOVE them!
Happy New Year!
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  • Reply Kerri

    Yum! I love me some collard greens. But then again, I do live in North Carolina. 🙂

    January 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm
  • Reply nichole fleming

    Wow, living in Georgia this hit home. Being this the 1st year in my own home I forgot about the green and black eyed peas this year. Lucky my mom made some, so we ate at her house. The bacon thing is new to me, I’ll have to try that next year!

    January 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    ok, being from the west; this has got to be the weirdest recipe i have ever heard. you people from the south come up with some crazy contraptions 😉
    but, it totally sounds delish!

    January 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Ha ha ha, this cracked me up! We cook all vegetables with meat if we can get away with it, so this is pretty traditional!

      January 4, 2011 at 10:36 am
      • Reply Donna

        Thank you for the crystal clear instructions and pics! I had them in a restaurant but wasn’t sure how to tackle them from scratch. They came out great!

        January 2, 2018 at 5:07 am
  • Reply Kristy

    OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a green-hater. At least I think I am, even though I’ve never tried them. (And I’m a born ‘n bred North Carolinian!) But you know, with a little bacon, I’ll try anything. Thanks for the recipe. I think I’ll cook some up soon. My husband will be so excited. 🙂

    January 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm
  • Reply Joy

    Hi! New follower here. I’ve always lived in IL and greens just aren’t on the menu around here. But I’ll say that your recipe sure has me tempted to try them! Seems like so much work to cut every single leaf! And stupid question, but what is spaetzle?

    January 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      I’m only 8 months late answering this question, sorry! But spaetzle is a German dumpling/noodle hybrid. It’s just flour, eggs and water that you slice off a cutting board into boiling water. Then, you top them with gravy. It is OH-SO-GOOD!

      September 8, 2011 at 10:40 am
  • Reply Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Casserole and Wine Pairings #SundaySupper - ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

    […] Parboil collard greens for 15 minutes and drain […]

    December 29, 2013 at 4:49 am
  • Reply Deana

    Would that be chicken bouillon?

    August 25, 2016 at 12:34 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Yes! Though I am more health-conscious nowadays and leave out the bouillon. Leave the bacon, though, lol

      August 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply greg fountain

    You are an amazing cook. Five ponds won’t hurt you any because not only a great cook but you’re also stunningly gorgeous!

    October 11, 2016 at 1:56 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Greg, you are too sweet! Thank you!

      October 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm
  • Reply Pam

    Thank you! My southern boy son-in-law will be up here for the long weekend. I was told collards and black eyed peas were a must. You’re a life saver.

    December 27, 2016 at 8:23 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      He will be impressed with you for making them this way! Good luck, Pam!!

      December 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm
  • Reply Jess

    So I’m a little late in cooking up my Collards. But hey its still January… Never attempted this before so I’m wondering… after boiling for 1.5 hrs do I drain them? They’re still a lot soupy, but definitely done.

    January 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      I usually just use a slotted spoon to scoop them! Let them drain a bit in the spoon before you put them on your plate.

      January 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm
  • Reply Black-Eyed Pea and Greens Casserole - Urban Swank | A Food & Lifestyle Blog

    […] Parboil collard greens for 15 minutes and drain […]

    February 16, 2017 at 2:01 pm
  • Reply Angela

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I nailed it the first time I made it. I had one of my coworkers try it and she gave it 5 stars (BTW, she is a born and bred southern lady so I was nervous letting her try my cooking). Now I make it regularly. I couldn’t be any happier. Thanks again.

    April 7, 2017 at 11:30 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Angela, that is awesome, thank you so much for sharing! Always happy to get more people hooked on collards! 🙂

      April 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm
  • Reply HollyT

    Oh these were so tasty! I did add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes, but followed the recipe otherwise. We will definitely make these next time we get some collards!

    June 23, 2017 at 3:39 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      So glad you enjoyed them, Holly!

      August 7, 2017 at 9:55 am
  • Reply Chris

    Would chicken stock instead of water work or have a good flavor?

    August 6, 2017 at 8:59 am
    • Reply Jessica

      Chris, it would! I wouldn’t use all chicken stock, but maybe a carton, then the rest water (after you do the initial parboil and are actually cooking them).

      August 7, 2017 at 9:55 am
  • Reply Janet

    Two bunches of collards tied together do not equal a bushel. A bushel holds 64 pints. And sorry but a rolling boil cannot be achieved on low to medium heat. I think you meant keep at a simmer.

    September 15, 2017 at 5:18 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Thanks for your edits! I’ll make an update to the post.

      September 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm
  • Reply Terina

    Do you cut up the bacon before putting it in the pot?

    October 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      You do not have to. Depends on your preference! I usually don’t.

      October 3, 2017 at 10:25 am
  • Reply Dianne

    This was the first and only recipe that I tried for collard greens. I never made them before and now make them all the time. Thank you for the easy to follow directions. Because of you, I discovered that they’re really good!

    December 31, 2017 at 3:53 pm
  • Reply Crystal baldree

    Eat the stem!!!!it is so good!!boil it to a good temp it is delicious!

    April 26, 2018 at 8:09 pm
  • Reply Leslie N Yarbrough

    Mmmmm mmm got these cooking right now. I added in onion when I cooked the bacon just because I’m used to my greens having onion in them. Can’t wait until they are done. They smell delicious!! Also added about 2 cups of chicken brother rather than doing just 8 cuos of water.

    June 18, 2019 at 8:22 pm
    • Reply Jessica

      Enjoy them, Leslie!

      June 18, 2019 at 8:46 pm
      • Reply Leslie N Yarbrough

        I did!! They were wonderful! My husband said they were the best greens he’s ever had!

        June 19, 2019 at 10:46 am
        • Reply Jessica

          That’s awesome! So glad you liked them!

          June 19, 2019 at 11:27 am
  • Reply Dale

    By far the best recipe for collards I’ve had in a long time. Made them a week ago and they were so good I ate them 4 days in a row. I’m cooking another batch as I write this reply and the chicken and potatoes are ready to go..

    November 3, 2019 at 8:17 pm
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