Collards are in the cabbage family and is an edible leaf that was also used as an ornamental garden plant (like the popular kale). I think they are over looked.
Many southern recipes will start with ham hocks and then cooking the collards down. This is a very delicous dish, but today I am taking an Italian twist.
Start with diced pancetta. Cook till it is crispy and some of the fat has rendered out.
See all the bown coloring on the bottom of the pan? That is called fond- and its all flavor. The best way to “clean a pan” is to deglaze. Remove the crispy pancetta and set aside. Add some chicken stock or broth, about 1 1/2 cups- 2 cups and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let the stock/broth simmer.
Next strip the leaves off the stem of the collards. I stack the leaves and roll them, then cut into strips.
Wash the leaves really well. Then add to the simmering liquid.
Let the pot simmer for 45-60 minutes. Stir every once in a while just to make sure there is a little liquid in the bottom. If needed add a little more stock/broth. When its is all cooked down finish with some chopped garlic, about 3 cloves. Add garlic at the end so it doesn’t burn. Cook for about 1 minute till the garlic is fragrant and then add the pancetta back in and a few dashes of red wine vinegar.
Makes a great side dish with some pasta, or polenta. If you take a southern route then serve it with cornbread, mac and cheese and some pan fried chicken. It is an overlooked, delicous and nutritious vegetable.