These are inspired by John’s Granny, who makes the meanest (read: most delicious) pot of greens we always have on the holiday table (and beyond). Sometimes she uses a ham hock, sometimes jowl bacon, and sometimes a smoked turkey wing, but the common denominator is something smoky and lots and lots of time for those greens to cook down to perfection. There will be liquid in the pot; do not throw this liquid away, people pay good money for it and it is called pot likker. (I would prefer a glass of white wine, but I see what they mean.)
- 4 pounds collard greens (yes, it’s a lot, but trust me)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (not tiny)
- 1 smoked turkey wing (you can find these in the meat department, especially this time of year) or ham hock*
- *(If you want your collards to be vegetarian, you can replace the turkey leg with 1 teaspoon smoked paprika)
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s red hot or Cholula, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Separate the collard leaves from the stalks and throw away the stalks. Stack the leaves on top of each other 8 or 9 at a time, roll them up, and slice across into ribbons (cool, right?). Rinse the collards in a colander and pat them dry. I know this seems like a lot of collards, but just you wait—these babies shrink more than (insert your favorite bad joke here).
Heat the oil in a big, wide pot over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and the smoked turkey wing and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, until you start smelling the smokiness of the turkey wing and the garlic turns golden, 5 minutes.
Working in batches of 5-6 cups of collards at a time, add the collards to the pot and cook, stirring, splashing in some broth to help the collards wilt a little bit for a few minutes. Keep adding the collards and broth in batches until all collards and broth are added to the pot and the collards are wilted.
Add the hot sauce, salt, and pepper and simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until those collards are meltingly tender and deeply flavorful, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (if you’d like to preserve more potlikker, cover the collards halfway through).
Before serving, if you want, pick the meat off the turkey wing or ham hock and stir into the collards. remove the turkey wing and season with more hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.