Thursday, December 15

Barnwell County Collards

From Jeff Allen, presenter at the 2005 symposium, comes the recipe for the dish that had everyone salivating:

Barnwell County Collards

Serves 8-10

three quarts water
one small ham hock
one medium red onion, halved and finely sliced
half cup cane syrup
one-third cup apple cider vinegar
one teaspoon kosher salt
two teaspoons black pepper
one teaspoon red pepper flakes
one-quarter cup dark brown sugar
one large bunch collard greens

Rinse the ham hock under running water. In a large saucepan or stockpot (big enough to hold all of the ingredients), place the hock in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Drain and return the hock to the pot with three quarts of clean water and the sliced red onion. Bring this mixture to a bare simmer and allow to cook covered for 2 or 3 hours, or until the ham hock is falling from the bone. Remove the hock and allow it to cool. Reserve the remaining liquid as this will become the delicious potlikker.

Clean and prepare the collard greens while the ham hock is cooking. Trim the stems from each stalk of greens where leaves began to form. Take each leaf (consisting of a stem with two wings on either side) and stack them in layers of fifteen to twenty leaves. Roll each stack of greens into a cigar shape and cut them into wide strips, about the width of a thumb. Place the cut greens in a deep sink of water and allow the sand and sediment to settle at the bottom of the sink. Very dirty greens may need two, or even three, rinses.

Add the remaining ingredients (excepting the collards) to the reserved ham hock liquid and bring to a boil. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Add the collard greens to the pot slowly, allowing successive additions to wilt down first if necessary. Slow the cooking to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for approximately two to three more hours until the collars have become reasonably tender.

Remove the meat from the hock, separate it into bite sized pieces with your hands, and return the meat to the pot of greens. Allow the collards to cool somewhat and refrigerate them overnight, if possible (they are much better the next day). Reheat them over a very low flame for one to two hours, until once again at a slow boil and serve.