Despite offering free bundles with purchase for late-Wednesday wine customers, it seems we still end up with a swap box full of collards whenever they’re in the share.
I don’t know why they’re so intimidating.
I mean, I get they can be bitter, but a little bit of fat mellows the harsh tannins*, making those deep blue-green leaves a tender, tasty delivery vehicle for loads of Vitamins A, C, and K.
You can use butter, olive oil—or, for real southern style, smoked pork fat. But lately, I’m partial to this Thai-influenced preparation that slots coconut milk into the tannin-taming role. The result is a creamy-spicy delight.
Adapted from Food 52. Serves 3-4. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic or 1 garlic scape, minced
- 1-2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (I love ginger, so I go on the high end)
- 1 large bunch collard greens (about a pound), de-stemmed and sliced into 1-inch strips
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (stick to the full-fat version; the reduced-fat stuff gets grainy)
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- juice of a small lime
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (I go low-sodium)
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 tsp red chile flakes, or more, to taste
In a large skillet (or wok), melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sauté until translucent and soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly for another minute.
Add the collards all at once. Keep them moving—scoop and fold, scoop and fold—until they’re just wilted (probably only a couple minutes).
Add all the liquids (coconut milk, stock, lime juice, tamari/soy), stir, and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of the chile flakes. Reduce heat to low; cook for 10-15 minutes more (if the potlikker starts to evaporate too quickly, add a little more stock and/or coconut milk). You’re done when the greens are fully soft but not disintegrating.
Taste, and adjust the seasoning (lime, tamari, salt, chile, or hot sauce) to your liking.
Serve over brown rice and/or beans—or alongside BBQ’d chicken or ribs.
*Tannins and fat go together like coffee and cream … or tea and milk … or, yes, red wine and steak. It’s a symbiotic, complementary, contrapuntal relationship. Fat (and protein) help break down the tannins found in plant leaves, twigs, and fruit skins—and tannins change the chemical composition of your mouth’s lubricants, giving your tastebuds more ability to “grip” your food’s flavors. Don’t you love it when there’s actual science behind our cultural habits?
For more, here’s the boss, Greg Moore.