Photo by Gina Moore
2–3 ham hocks
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 bunch collard greens, washed and chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock, more if needed
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1–2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2–3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
In a large pot over medium heat, add ham hocks, peppercorns, bay leaf and water to cover. Cook until ham hocks are falling apart, about 2–2½ hours. Remove ham hocks to a bowl to cool; reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, and discard the rest. When ham hocks are cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones. Cut remaining meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Return reserved liquid to the same pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Put greens in heated liquid gradually, allowing greens to shrink down until all are incorporated into the pot. Mix vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved; add to greens. Cook until greens are tender, about 45 minutes. (If liquid level gets low, add stock as needed.) Halfway through cooking, in a small saute pan, heat oil. Saute jalapenos and garlic until translucent but not brown. Add to greens, and continue cooking for the remainder of the 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and crushed red pepper, if desired. Return meat to pot, and cook an additional 5–8 minutes.
Homemade cornbread – Don’t be so quick to reach for the box mix when you can have this made-from-scratch version, flavored with green onion and shredded cheese.