Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Collard Greens Recipe

You all have been asking for years for this, and I'm finally going to deliver!
Ma Mary's Americanized Collard Greens


1 bunch of collard greens

1 1/2 large yellow onions

6-10 cloves of garlic, pressed

3/4-1 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. Italian Seasoning

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 large chicken bouillon cube (prefer Maggi)

2-3 Habanero peppers

Serve on a 'Liberian mound' of rice!

Optional: Meat is optional. I usually use about 1 pound of beef stew meat, but you can add chicken or fish as well. I use kitchen scissors and cut the stew meat into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with italian seasoning and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil in a non-stick skillet and over medium heat, cook the meat until it’s almost done. You can add onion and garlic too. (If you want a very spicy dish, cut the top off of a Habanero pepper and add it to the oil first. Let it infuse the oil for a few minutes before adding the meat.)

Preparing the collard greens is the most time-consuming part of the process. Start by cutting off the stem ends. I cut off up to where the base of the leaf starts. The easiest way to clean the greens is to clean your sink, fill it up with the leaves and water and start rinsing. It takes some ‘swishing’ to knock the grit out of the leaf veins. After the leaves are washed, you are going to chiffonade them. Stack the leaves on top of each other (10 leaves or so) and starting on one side, roll the leaves tightly (like a cigar), and then cut across the leaves to make fine ribbons. Liberians cut the leaves as thin as possible, plus they will cook quicker. Keep stacking, rolling and cutting until all of the leaves are all prepared.

Take your onions and cut in half. Then you will thinly slice the onion halves--think shoestring onions. Using a garlic press, press 6-8 garlic cloves. To prepare your peppers, cut off the top and take out the seeds. Quarter the pepper and set aside.

I use an 8-quart, non-stick, stock pot every time I cook my collard greens. Just make sure you have a good sized, non-stick ‘soup pot’ and you will be fine.

Over medium heat, put enough vegetable oil in your pot to cover the bottom on the pot and give alittle depth (3/4 to 1 cup). Heat the oil until it’s warm, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add 1 tsp. Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Mix together and cook a few more minutes. Add the greens in batches, and toss so they get covered in the oil. You might have to add some greens and let them wilt down before adding more. After all greens are added, let them cook for about 5 minutes. I prefer to use a good pair of tongs to keep tossing the greens. As the greens start to wilt down you will start adding water, 1 cup at a time. Add 1 cup of water and continue cooking, tossing every 10-15 minutes. After the greens are all wilted, reduce the heat to low and simmer. Crush one large, or two small, chicken bullion cubes and incorporate it, along with your Habanero peppers when you start to simmer the greens.

Keep an eye on the oil/water level--you don’t want it to go dry or the greens will burn. You can add another cup or two of water during the cooking time, which will steam the greens, and then you can toss less often. I prefer my greens to not be crunchy, so I usually cook them for at least an hour (most times closer to 2 hours). During this time I do a few taste tests and add more onion, garlic or spices to taste. Serve in a big bowl, over rice, and eat like a Liberian with a big spoon. You can also serve with fried chicken, pineapple or plantain/banana/root chips.

Helpful Habanero Hints:

This is your chance to control the heat. You can always add more spice, but you can’t take it away. Habaneros pack a punch...especially if you’re not acclimated to spicy food. The more seeds that you leave in the pepper, the spicier it will be. If you only prefer alittle spice, take out all of the seeds; the skin alone will spice the greens. I am very sensitive to hot peppers, so I always handle the peppers with a latex glove. Also, with collard greens, I use red and yellow peppers, so my family and friends can easily remove the peppers (totally not Liberian) if they can’t handle the spice. If you really want it spicy, you can add the pepper in the very beginning when you saute the onion and garlic.

Now you can enjoy a taste of Liberia in your own home!

P.S. I documented my cooking experience because I wanted to be one of those awesome food blogs for a day. But I've decided this post is too long for more photos...so maybe another time.


Rosemary Welch said...

Hi. It's been a long time since I've written you. My brother went to Heaven Nov. 12, 2010.

However I LOVE your recipes! How are you doing? How is Liberia? How is your President? I pray all is well with them and you. God bless.


Anonymous said...

I am using your recipe at my New Hampshire home. I have enjoyed Liberian food when I was working in Kakata, Gbarnga, Ganta and Buchanan. Thanks for posting!

wbliss said...

Lover your blog. I grew up in Liberia as a son of a missionary 1960-69 at ELWA just south of Monrovia. I learned to walk on the boat. My mother says I learned to swim first in the ocean. Caught my fish by hand. I love the collard greens, hot peppa's and palm butter. Lots of hot peppa. I eat them almost straight. The Liberian rice has a flavor that just can't be found here in the USA. Visited last spring. Loved it. Met the Vice President. Liberia is doing much better.