Collard greens are one vegetable I just can't resist. Their thick, meaty leaves, propped up by huge center ribs, are monsters in the world of leafy greens. I love their beauty, so big and elephantine, leathery and deep blue-green. I cut away those middle ribs and slice the leaves into ribbons, and braise them until they are tender and juicy.
I saw these big beautiful bunches of collard greens at the farmers' market on Saturday, and I decided that they needed to come home with me and end up in my favorite pot.
The resulting stew is terrific over pasta or rice; it's a way of putting vegetables front and center, dressed up with a little bit of spicy chorizo. I also throw in cider vinegar for tang and pizzazz; together this stew is meaty, juicy, and hearty, with a finishing zip and a hint of heat.
Collard Greens Stew with Chorizo & Garlic
1/2 pound fresh chorizo sausage (not smoked)
2 pounds collard greens (two big bunches)
2 yellow onions, about 1/2 pound, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup cider vinegar
Crumble the chorizo into a heavy 5-quart (or larger) pot set over medium heat. (If the sausage is in casings, slit them down the middle, peel away and discard.) Cook the sausage for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up crumbles, until the sausage is getting crispy and has released its fat.
Meanwhile, cut the collards into ribbons. Fold each leaf in half and slit the large center rib away and discard. Stack the halved leaves on top of each other, roll up from the short end into a cigar shape and cut lengthwise down the center. Then cut crosswise into short ribbons about 1/2-inch-wide.
As the sausage finishes cooking, add the onions and garlic, along with the paprika and salt, as well as the red pepper flakes if desired. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the onion softens. Add the collard green ribbons slowly, handful by handful, stirring them in so that they wilt down and make room for more.
Pour in the chicken broth, sherry, and cider vinegar and bring to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the collards are tender.
Slow Cooker Variation: Prepare the chorizo, collards, onion and garlic as directed above. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the chicken broth, sherry, and cider vinegar. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on LOW or until the collards are quite tender.
Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with rice, pasta, or dumplings. Leftovers are excellent; the flavors bloom even more in the fridge.
(Images: Faith Durand)