Collards and black-eyed peas are our luck ’n’ money dishes on New Year’s Day. I also made collards for chef Emeril Lagasse when he taped his TV show in my kitchen. Boy, did Emeril smack his lips over those collards! Another collard connoisseur is Dr. Hook’s eye-patch wearer, Ray Sawyer. Yet another is Ricky Skaggs. Ricky and his wife Sharon stopped by the house one day, and I happened to have a half-filled pot of collards. “Do I smell collards?” asked Ricky. Not waiting for a plate, he grabbed the pot off the stove and a fork and ate every bite!
3 or 4 bunches collards
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 pound bacon
3/4 stick butter
1 teaspoon salt (to taste — I use 1 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
Carefully wash and inspect collards, discarding tough or inferior leaves and large stems. Place greens in a large pot half filled with cold tap water. Add soda. Bring greens to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until tender — takes 45 minutes or an hour.
While greens are cooking, fry bacon in a large frying pan. Remove bacon and set aside. Reserve drippings. Melt butter in frying pan with drippings. Drain collards and add to pan with drippings/butter. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil. Cut down heat to medium low. Stir until all leaves are coated. Cook slowly about 45 minutes. Crumble bacon on top of greens.
FYI: Soda in greens removes the bitter unpleasant taste.