Collard Greens with Bacon

Collard greens cooked until wilted with bacon, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar, and a dash of hot sauce.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

My father found this Louisiana recipe for collard greens in the Wall St. Journal earlier this year that we’ve now made several times. Each time I wonder why we don’t make them more often, they’re so good! The combination of the bacon, onions, sweetened cider vinegar and hot pepper sauce seem to neutralize the natural bitterness of the greens. Do you like collard greens? If so, what’s your favorite way of preparing them? Please let us know in the comments.

Collard Greens with Bacon Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Chef's tip: don't overcook the bacon. It should be barely brown around the edges and still somewhat raw-looking in the middle.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds collard greens, stems removed, sliced into 3-inch-wide strips (can substitute kale or chard)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or water)*

Method

1 Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the bacon in the skillet until it just begins to brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and are just starting to brown.

2 Add the garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and hot sauce. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute. Add the vinegar, bring to a simmer, and cook until the amount of liquid is reduced by half, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

3 Add the collard greens and the chicken broth (or water) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temp to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the collard greens have wilted and have lost their brightness. Season to taste with additional vinegar and hot sauce. Serve with some of the pan juices from the pan.

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Adapted from a recipe by Chef Donald Link, of Herbsaint and Cochon in New Orleans.

Links:

See more collard greens recipes at Food Blog Search.

Showing 4 of 81 Comments

  • Lise K

    These came out EXCELLENT! I admit, I tweaked the vinegar a bit as I LOVE very vinegar-y recipes and I also added more hot sauce. I also cut up and added two hearts of roumaine since I had them lying around. YUMMY. It’s three days later and I’m down to the last of this bowl of collards and plan to make more soon!

  • Eleanore

    Collard Greens and Bacon:

    Although I used all ingredients, except the hot sauce, my amounts were out of balance. One bunch of collard greens in no way will weigh two pounds! So I supplemented what I had on hand: bok choi and still had only 1 1/4 pd greens. I also missed the word ‘thick cut’ bacon, and used regular. All the flavors were there, but the one flavor that seemed to be overwhelmed by fat and sugar was the greens themselves. Next time, I plan on frying the bacon till fat is rendered out, removing it, and using a bit of oil (olive, most likely) to cook onions. In my efforts to cut way down on fat (esp. animal) and sugar, I have been very surprized by incredible flavors of the main ingredient of a recipe, if left alone to stand on its own. Imagine that!

  • amateur cook

    This was my first time making collard greens. I fell in love with it a long time ago when someone made it with ham hock for a pot luck dinner. Here are the changes that I made to your recipe. I used 8 – 9 pieces of the thick bacon (I bet it’s great with smoked ham too!), and left every drop of delicious bacon grease in there, although surprisingly it was not overwhelmingly greasy. I only had red onion (instead of yellow; I’ve been trying to use red onion more often anyway because it gives a more spicy flavor), and used about 3 – 4 cloves garlic. I did not have chicken stock, so I used 2 cups water and 3 small chicken bouillon cubes. I used white vinegar, but I’m sure apple cider vinegar is better if I had it available. I also added 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes and about 1/4 – 1/2 c. sherry (from the liquor store, not cooking sherry (I’ve heard too many chefs say to avoid cooking sherry because it contains salt which changes the flavor)). Usually I do not like to cook my greens very long. However, for this dish, it required simmering on low heat for at least 45 min – 1 h to get rid of the bitterness. I served it with rice, and oh how good it is!

  • Marielle

    Love, love, love this recipe! Tried it the other night and it was a big hit with my family! I am now going to bring this dish down on Easter dinner at the In-laws house. My husbands father is from Louisiana and has a old recipe he has used all his life and people always ask him to make his famous greens…well this year it will be mine! I guarantee these greens will be the hit!

  • Karen

    To get the umami and great tasting braised greens without the meat or animal fat, try using a combination of sesame oil and butter (well, OK, some animal fat) to saute onion and garlic, add some smoked paprika and hot pepper flakes, then pre-washed greens chopped up however you like, and for liquid use at least a cup of dry white wine, either with additional wine, vegetable broth or water to have enough liquid for a good simmer until tender. Though I suppose if you don’t want or have wine, water with a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar would have a similar effect.

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Collard Greens with Bacon