Sweet and Sour Collard Greens

We rely on our CSA share for the majority of our veggies from late June through November.  However, we have a little supplement in the form of some hobby garden beds in the back yard.  I have 3 raised beds.  One with strawberries and the other two with veggies.  Each year I learn a bit more about gardening and I practice what I've learned out back.  This year I did a bit of research on companion planting and gave that a try when laying out the plants in my beds.  I also decided to plant some totally different things this year.  In addition to my traditional peas, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs, I have shallots, celery, and collard greens.  All things that I love to cook with and don't come in our CSA box.

The collards are growing like crazy.  I was inspired on Father's Day by some leftover bacon fat in our cast iron skillet to come up with a way to use some of those huge, green leaves.  This recipe for sweet and sour collard greens was a trial that worked in our favor.  Neal loved these so much (or at least that is what he told me!).  We didn't share any with the kids.  We ate them ourselves for lunch during the week.  They were even great reheated.

Sweet and Sour Collard Greens (serves 4)
2 bunches (about 20 large leaves) collard greens washed and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped into about 3/4 inch pieces
2 TBSP bacon grease
2 TBSP brown sugar
1-2 TBSP red wine vinegar plus 1 more TBSP for later in the cooking process
1/2 cup water (used as 1/4 and 1/4 at different times in the process)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

I started with warm bacon grease in a cast iron skillet.  Bring the heat up and add the onions.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.  Then add 1-2 TBSP of red wine vinegar and the brown sugar.  Stir to coat the onions and cook for about 1 minute.  Then add the chopped greens.  Depending on the size of your skillet you may need to add them in batches as they cook down until all have been stirred into the pan and are coated with onion mixture.  Add 1/4 cup of water and cover, leaving the burner on low to cook the greens.  Check after about 5 minutes to stir and make sure there is enough water to continue cooking the greens.  After about 15 total minutes of cooking time for the greens, taste them.  Add more vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste and more water if needed.  Cook for a couple more minutes to take the edge off of the additional vinegar and get the greens nice and tender.  If you are cooking up some bacon to get the grease, you could crumble the cooked bacon over the top to make this a main dish.  If you are using leftover grease from your breakfast, serve with your favorite grilled meat or veggies.

If you don't have collard greens, I think this would be equally tasty with kale or swiss chard. You would want to reduce the cooking time for these less-aggressive greens.  Maybe 3-5 minutes less for the kale and 5-8 minutes less for the swiss chard.  With the chard, I would rough chop the stems and cook them along with the onion at the beginning. You might also want to use a bit less sugar and vinegar with these other greens as well.

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