I’ve been eating southern-style collard greens for as long as I can remember. My grandmother on my dad’s side (may she rest), used to whip them up special for me pretty much any time I wanted them. And I wanted them a lot. Both of my grandma’s killed it in the kitchen, and their knowledge poured into my mom, and now it’s all mine. I love pork, but I know there’s a handful of you who don’t eat it. This version is pork-free but it absolutely does not skimp on flavor. These greens remind me of the women I was raised by, and it’s very near and dear to my heart. We never measure anything, but of course I’m going to give you measurements to start off with, and adjust to your own personal liking.
The base of the broth is made with high-quality chicken stock, not broth. Be 100% sure you’re buying the best quality chicken stock if not using homemade. The stock is full of serious flavor, which permeates through the greens slowly, making them MELT IN YOUR MOUTH DELICIOUS! I repeat, make sure the chicken stock is the highest quality you can buy (if not make). Also, greens can be kinda bitter, so it’s important you learn to balance these flavors by giving it a splash of acid (apple cider vinegar, preferably with the mother), and a bit of sweetness (wildflower honey). What if you can’t find wildflower honey? Then use whatever you have access to. You’ll also want to add some heat to your greens, the level is up to you.
Low and slow is the best way to cook southern-style collard greens, in my opinion. No need to rush, this is a low-country kinda dish, so let these aromas permeate your kitchen and enjoy the end results. I first posted this recipe to my Instagram account last year, and folks have made it for their families during holiday season. Everyone who’s tried it so far has loved it, and I think that has a lot to do with how I instruct you to prepare it. I want you to really make this yours, so as always, taste as you go!
I use two pre-made spices for this recipe, by The Gourmet Collection (links in recipe). I purchase mine from either Tuesday Morning, Marshall’s, or TJ Maxx. They’ve also been spotted at World Market. If you cannot find them, here’s the ingredients list for both, so you can substitute with what you have.
Smoked Paprika, Garlic, Chili & Chives Spice Blend
- smoked paprika, garlic, onion, sugar, red bell peppers, tomato flakes, black pepper, chili, chives, lemon peel, oregano, rosemary
Garlic & Onion Spice Blend
- garlic, onion, salt, soy bean, carrot, coriander, sugar, black pepper, red bell pepper, parsley, oregano, turmeric, cumin, sage, chives.
These were so amazing. If you’d rather use pork, such as hamhocks or fat back, etc. instead of the smoked turkey, feel free! I’ve made them with either protein, and they come out succulent no matter what.Print
Incredibly delicious southern-style collard greens, reminiscent of my grandmother. These do not contain pork, but you could swap the smoked turkey for ham-hocks if you prefer. These are eyeball measurements to get you started. Please taste as you go and adjust to your liking.
- 4 large bundles of collards, stemmed and chopped
- 1 stick butter (salted)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large leeks, chopped and rinsed thoroughly
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bundle of fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
- 1 teaspoon garlic & onion mix (SEE NOTES BELOW)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, garlic, chili & chives mix (SEE NOTES BELOW)
- 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 smoked turkey necks
- 2 smoked turkey wings
- 1 quart high-quality chicken stock (not low sodium)
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (with the mother, if possible)
- 1 tbsp wildflower honey
- Remove the thick fibrous stems from your collard greens. Rinse the leaves of the greens thoroughly to remove any dirt and sand. Roll the leaves up and chop them into manageable bite-sized pieces.
- In a large tall stock pot, sauté the leeks and onion in the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper. Cook until the leeks and onion are translucent, about 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring to distribute. Add the thyme bundle, and smoked meat. Stir for about a minute to help the thyme release its flavor into the onion mixture.
- Pour in the chicken stock and water, then add the spice blends. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes with the lid on. Taste the broth mixture, season to taste/adjust.
- When you’re satisfied with the flavor, add the collard greens. Push them down and stir them around until they’re submerged. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the vinegar and honey, and cook and additional 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the collard greens are melt-in-your-mouth tender and the smoked meat is falling off the bone.
- Remove the smoked meat bones from the pot, let them cool just enough so you can handle them. With gloved hands or a fork, pick the meat from the bones and add it back to the greens. Taste and adjust.
- When the greens are perfectly seasoned and balanced, serve and enjoy.
The spice mixes I used are from The Gourmet Collection, found at Homegoods, Tuesday Morning, Amazon, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc.
Keywords: southern style collard greens, collard greens, smoked turkey, how to cook collard greens, the best collard greens
Chef Resha is an accomplished self-taught private chef, home cook, public figure, and recipe developer based in the DC Metro area. Creator and owner of CarnalDish — an incredibly delicious and renowned website full of sinful comfort food recipes made with love. CarnalDish has been featured on Good Morning Washington, Ebony magazine, Essence, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Newport, The Dr. Oz Show, and many more notable publications.