Monday, January 20, 2020

Slow Cooker Sausage and Collard Greens

  I've heard many people saying that they grew up eating collard greens, or that eating collards greens is like taking a page from their childhood. I must say that I didn't discover collard greens until I was an adult, but as soon as I tried them, I was an immediate fan! They're just so delicious and hearty! And I love the fact that they're sturdy enough to stand up to any kind of meat when you serve them. As much as I love other greens, (like say, maybe spinach) they can get soggy and cook down to practically nothing. Collards, on the other hand, don't disappear in the pan, and they pair classically with any kind of pork.
  For this recipe, instead of just doing bacon, (or the traditional ham hocks), I decided to do some Italian sausage, and let them go all afternoon in the slow cooker. They turned out great! And I love that it was a one pot meal, with the meats and greens cooked all together. No need to serve any other side dishes! Well, maybe just some corn bread, and you're good to go! Actually, I've also heard of serving collards greens ON TOP of a piece of corn bread, and then pouring the broth (aka "pot liquor") over the whole thing. Now THERE'S some comfort food for you! Mmm... I think I need to try that next time! Hope you like it!

6 slices thick cut bacon
1-2 lbs Italian sausage, mild or hot, or both
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 pounds collard greens
2 cups chicken broth

Cut the bacon into small pieces and add to a cold pan. Slowly bring up to medium heat, and saute the bacon until it is crisp and much of the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pan and add to your slow cooker, but leave the fat in the pan. Add the sausage to the pan. Let it brown on both sides (no need to cook all the way through). Remove the sausage from the pan. Slice the sausage into large chunks and add to the slow cooker.
While the bacon and sausage are cooking, wash and chop your greens and add to your slow cooker.
Add onions and garlic to your saute pan. Saute for just a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add a few splashes of chicken broth to the pan and scrape up any brown bits from the pan. Add everything to the slow cooker along with the rest of the chicken broth. Cover. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Adjust seasoning, if needed.

When you wash any kind of lettuce or leafy green, fill a large pot or bowl with cold water in the sink. Then add your greens, and swish them around so they are completely washed. Using both hands, lift the greens out of the water snd let them drain or use a salad spinner to dry. The key thing here is that you want to lift them out of the cold water instead of dumping the water and leaves out, say, into a strainer, as you might do with pasta. When you wash the leaves, all the grit and sand will sink to the bottom and you don't want to dump the water and grit right back onto the leaves.
Btw, when I cook collards, I don't throw away the stems. I know many people just eat the leaves, but I always just chop off the ends and use the whole thing. Why waste it??
If you want to add hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes, go right ahead! It's also a classic move to add a little splash of apple cider vinegar. I say go for it!
If you'll notice, there are no seasonings in the recipe. No salt, no pepper. Nothing. The sausage will flavor the whole pot! But you should still taste it at the end of cooking and adjust the seasoning to make sure it's how you like it!

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