Southern Collard Greens

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Cooking collard greens slowly over low heat with some type of bacon and an ingredient to lend a spicy kick is a traditional approach. The result is tender greens with a spice-flecked pork-flavored broth.

Hearty in flavor and high in nutrients, dark greens, also known as cooking greens, are perfect for braising. Represented by several different vegetable families, they range in flavor from lemony sorrel to peppery turnip greens. Feel free to substitute other hearty greens for the collard greens, or use a mixture.


  • 5 to 6 lb. collard greens 
  • 2 tsp. canola oil 
  • 1/4 lb. pancetta, finely diced 
  • 4 quarts water 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 


Remove coarse stems and center ribs from the collard greens, then rinse and drain the leaves. Dry completely and coarsely chop.

In a small fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Stovetop method: In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the greens, reduce the heat to medium-high, cover partially and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 45 minutes.

Slow-cooker method: Transfer the greens to a slow cooker and add the water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very tender, about 2 hours on low.

If any liquid remains, drain the greens before transferring them to a serving bowl. Season with pepper and stir in the reserved pancetta and the red pepper flakes. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow Cooking, by Melanie Barnard, Charles Pierce & Denis Kelly (Oxmoor House, 2008).

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