(or: "Everything's Better with Bacon and Beer")
EDITED TO ADD:
Hello, Beer People!
My brother, the beer writer, has suggested on his blog that there must be a better beer to use making collards, and has put out a call for suggestions. I just want to make sure I'm on record as saying DUH, absolutely, I'm sure there is. I threw in some of the beer I was drinking. I feel that perhaps my brother is having a laugh at my expense, suggesting that I am not a beer connoisseur. I am more than willing to own up. I AM NOT A BEER CONNOISSEUR.
I am a banana bread connoisseur.
Back to the post:
2 strips bacon
big spoonful of chopped garlic
bottle of beer (I had a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat)
and a small bunch of ridiculously gigantic greens.
Honestly, I had no idea what these things were. But our farm - the people who grew this stuff - helpfully provide a web page entitled "Name the Vegetable!" to help you identify what's staring you down.
These things looked like the broadleaf weeds that grew in the yard of my childhood home, magnified. The leaves are thick and leathery and huge.
Oddly enough, instead of doing something normal like looking at the internet, or at The Joy of Cooking, (actually, the really normal thing for me to do would be to think it and re-think it and research it until long after the greens had rotted in the crisper...) I looked at this big mess of leaves and decided to just...make something up.
I got the clever idea to start with bacon - how far wrong can you go, really, with bacon? I keep some bacon in the freezer - we use so little, I think this half-pound will cover us for the year.
Anyway, I heated up a frying pan and broke up two slices of frozen bacon, and cooked them for several minutes, until the pieces were starting to cook but not crispy yet. I added the garlic and cooked that, over medium heat, while I washed each leaf and removed the stems. I 'chiffonade-ed' them - rolled the leaves tightly and sliced them into thin ribbons.
I threw the greens in the pan, where they wilted very slowly.
This began a fairly long hands-on process: letting the greens cook, throwing in a splash of water, covering them, uncovering them, lather, rinse, repeat. I was drinking a beer at the time (along with reheating pizza, talking on the phone and cleaning out the fridge) and at some point I threw a big splash of beer into the pan.
Which gave me two exactly simultaneous thoughts -
"Uh oh, I think I just rendered this inedible"
"hey, that smells pretty awesome."
After that, I spent about 20 more minutes splashing in beer and cooking it down, splashing in beer and cooking it down. When I decided it was finished, the greens still (unbelievably) had a little crunch to them. It was delicious. I ate it all.
If I do this again, I'll add a some water with the greens and cook them covered for a good long while. Then I'd let the water cook off, add some beer and let that reduce. The sweetness of that particular beer gave the dish something like carmelization, which I'd like more of. I'd also use some onions (I've run out.) And it would have been fine with just one strip of bacon.
All in all, not a company dinner, but good wholesome fresh food that I enjoyed cooking and eating. Nothing to sneeze at.