Today, I’m going a direction I’ve never been on this blog and the direction is inspired by my friend Cari (aka @mahjerle) from Twitter. I got to meet her live and in person when I was visiting the Pacific Northwest back in October. We spent a Saturday evening having fried pie and laughs with our amazing group of friends in Portland. It was such a fun evening and I can’t wait to go back and see them all again!
Anyway, Cari is known around her neck of the woods as a fabulous cook. While I was there, I bestowed upon her my prized recipe for my friend Jilly’s Butter Cake. (Which I’m known for around my neck of the woods.) And today, in a passing conversation, I promised Cari that I’d tell her how to make Carolina-style collard greens and my Daddy’s grits.
So, guess what?
Welcome to Carolina Country Cookin’ with Sarah!
I suppose that I should start by explaining that my Daddy has been the family cook for half a century. When we have family meals—be they Thanksgiving or Christmas or whatever—Daddy’s usually the one manning the stove or the grill. And although I do not eat collards, everyone that likes collards swears by Daddy’s collards.
Buy fresh collards. The canned stuff just isn’t the same. You want to cut out the main stem, then, throw them in the sink and wash them well. Daddy doesn’t know how to make a small amount… He always makes enough for the whole county when he fixes ‘em. So, we actually throw the whole mess of ‘em into the bathtub to wash them.
Seriously. Stop laughing. It works.
Once you wash them, you may want to cut them up. The collards will cook faster that way. But we typically cook them a little slower and cut them up after they’re cooked.
While the collards are hanging out in your bathtub or sink, take a ham bone or a good amount of country ham pieces and put them in about four inches of water in a large pot. Remember that even though your collards will cook down, they start out big and leafy and will need room. You want to boil your meat for about thirty minutes, then put your collards in that pot of boiling water. Keep adding leaves until it all wilts down and you get it all in the pot. Then, just keep the water at a light rolling boil. You want ‘em just at a boil. Cook them until they’re the tenderness you prefer. Daddy likes them real tender, but if you like them crunchy, just don’t cook them as long.
When you get ready to serve them, remove them from the broth. If you didn’t pre-cut them, cut them now. Add salt to taste.
Now, when I was a kid, I just hated grits. But on the weekends, when Daddy would make us breakfast, he would always put a spoonful of grits on my plate anyway. I learned to cut up my meat and mix the meat, the scrambled eggs, and the grits into a big ol’ mess on my plate and eat it that way. Mixed all together, the grits weren’t so bad. And you know what? Now, I actually like them.
We use Quaker “Quick Grits.” The box says that they cook in five minutes. There are directions on the box. IGNORE THEM!
Per cup of water, you add ¼ c. of grits. ADD THE SALT NOW! If you wait until after cooking to add the salt, you might as well not add it at all.
Boil the grits. You want to cook them for thirty minutes (as opposed to the five minutes on the directions on the box.) You’ll need to keep an eye on them and stir them occasionally. You will probably have to add a little water along the way.
Ten minutes before the grits are done, add a tablespoon or so of butter or margarine.
To feed 2-3 people a good serving of grits, you’ll want to use the 1 cup of water and ¼ c. of grits. For a larger family, just double the recipe.
Have a great weekend, y’all! Make some grits for your kids for breakfast on Sunday and make sure you make a mess of collards for your family for Thanksgiving Day! It’ll be a nice change for those who like ‘em and are real tired of green bean casserole!