I didn't even begin to like greens until I was 50 years old. I tried them a few times thinking that real country cooks would make them taste good - not to me. In my mind I had an idea that greens could taste good if made according to MY taste. Okay, so in my attempt to make greens palatable to me I chose collards and these, I have to say, are amazing! Don't skip the beer - it makes a world of difference in the final taste.
1If using fresh collard leaves, strip the leaves from the center stalk and if some of the larger leaves have thick veins, strip the green parts away. You can either do like I did the first few times and tear each leaf, one by one into 2 inch pieces, or you can do it the fast way.
2First, whether using pre-washed greens in a bag, or fresh greens, wash well and rinse, wash again in fresh water and rinse again, and repeat one more time. Put the rinsed greens to a large colander and drain the water, then start stacking about 8-10 leaves on top of each other, roll them up and using a sharp knife cut the rolls into strips as narrow or wide as you like. This is called chiffonade (shif-a-nod.) To keep the strips from being too long, I also cut the rolls in half.
3Now comes the good part. In a very large stock pot, heat the bacon grease (or margarine) and olive oil, add the onions, salt & pepper, saute until onions begin to soften and just starts to caramelize. (Note, if you are using a smoked ham hock, you must cook down the hock first in water and onions for 1 hour. This is another reason I like the cured ham bone because I prefer the chicken stock and a less smoky flavor.)
4To the softened onions add the ham bone, 4 cups of chicken stock, beer, garlic, pepper flakes, and sugar. Add as many green as you can get into the pot, cover and let cook down about 5 minutes. Add more greens, repeat until all greens are in the pot. Let them cook down for about 15-20 minutes.
5Add the ham chunks and both Tobasco flavors, if using, stir well and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
Check liquid level while they're simmering and add remaining chicken stock if needed. Taste pot liquor and adjust seasonings if needed.
6Stir, cover and simmer another hour or more as needed to reach the desired tenderness of greens that you like. Taste again and re-season if needed.
Serve with pepper vinegar for extra kick and hot buttered corn bread.
7*NOTES: If you like smoked ham hocks then by all means use that. I prefer ham chunks from a cured ham. If you don't have olive oil use butter or margarine. Tobasco is optional, sometimes I use it sometimes I don't. Sometimes I put chopped bell peppers in with the onions, depending on my mood.
8You can pressure can these for enjoying all year long. Follow the directions on your pressure canner. DO NOT use a hot water bath method.