This easy slow cooker collard greens recipe is a family favorite! Slow-cooker collard greens are a classic soul food dish consisting of smoked meat and bunches of collards cooked in a delicious savory broth. This easy recipe is a delicious side dish during the holidays and perfect for family dinners.
I have fond memories from my childhood of my mom, aunts, and grandmom all cooking collard greens. They'd make them for almost every occasion - holidays, graduations, birthdays, cookouts, baby showers - you name it. The sink would be filled with water and vinegar and once those greens hit the pot, the smell of smoked meat and garlic would fill the house.
This collard greens recipe is not only a great side dish but it's a take on my family's recipe. During the holidays, I always need more space on the stove so I've gradually over the years have began using my slow cooker to ease the burden of holiday cooking.
That's where this recipe comes in hand. The first time I made greens in a slow cooker, I was shocked that I could get the same taste and flavor and tenderness without needing to take up space on the stove. In fact, I typically throw the greens in the crock pot the night before and let them cook down while I sleep. One less thing for me to cook!
I used my 4 quart crock pot slow cooker when I'm making a smaller batch for my family, but when I'm prepping a big holiday meal, I use the 7 quart size. They come out exception each and every time!
Collard greens are part of the cabbage family so uncooked, they're a bit bitter - kind of like kale. However, when cooked in the delicious broth with smoked meat - these bitter greens transform into a savory and smokey dish with a nice bit of tang and a tiny bit of spice. Once cooked, all of the bitterness leaves and the tender greens take on the flavor of In a word, they are heavenly! Best of all, they're a pretty healthy side dish loaded with nutrients AND flavor. You get the best of both worlds.
Collard greens actually originated in the Mediterranean and made their way to the American South via the atlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans used their traditional cooking methods to make a multitude of dishes using the foods that were available to them.
Collard greens were a readily available vegetable that they were allowed to grow and use to feed their family, hence as to why this dish is a staple dish in African American culture and the quintessential soul food.
I'm no southern girl, but I believe that my great great grandmother was from South Carolina. My great grandmother taught my grandmom who taught my mom, who then taught me how to make these greens.
As with all slow cooker recipes, you'll need a slow cooker. It's one of my favorite ways to prepare collard greens. As you can see, there aren't many ingredients - but the #1 ingredient when making greens is time.
The cooking process is meant to be low and slow - it's the BEST way to prepare your greens. If you rush it, it'll be toothsome and tough. This recipe has a lot of love and a lot of history. You can't rush this one y'all - sorry not sorry! The finished product may take a bit of time but you'll see - it's worth it. You'll need:
Start by scrubbing your sink and making sure it's VERY clean. Fill the sink with about 6 inches of hot water and add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar. Submerge the collard greens into the water and let them soak for 10 minutes.
Begin removing the stems from the greens. Grab one leaf and fold it in half. Pull the stem away from the leaf all the way up the leaf. Throw away the stem. Rip the leaf into shreds and place it back into the vinegar solution. Repeat for all of the leafy greens. (You can also use a sharp knife to cut the stem away from the leaves if you don't want to use your hands - personal preference)
Once you're finished removing the stems, continue to let the greens soak and get started on the cooking liquid. Add a large pot to the stove over medium heat and drizzle a little olive oil. Add diced onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 5-6 minutes, until softened and fragrant. Add diced garlic and seasonings and continue to cook for 3 minutes.
Pour chicken broth into the pan and allow it to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Place the smoked meats into the crock pot and then place the greens on top. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the crockpot and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for 8 hours, stirring occasionally. I do not recommend cooking these greens on high heat, low and slow is the way to go.
Grab the bones of the smoked meat and use a fork to pull the meat away from the bone. Remove the bones and mix the meat into the greens. Enjoy with a bit of hot sauce.
This wonderful side dish goes with just about everything. We eat them all year long and they are the perfect compliment to any soul food recipe. Here are a few suggestions below:
Yes! Collard greens can absolutely be eaten raw. They're great for salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and even as a wrap for spring rolls.
Collard greens prefer cool weather and are in season in the Spring, late summer, and Fall.
Collard greens are exceptionally good for you. They have twice the amount of calcium as spinach and are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
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