I love greens. Can't get enough of 'em. And that's a problem because I don't know how to cook 'em.
I had never eaten collard greens until a few years ago on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Down south, they serve greens with just about everything. The first time I tried them, I was hooked. Now, every time I'm down south I eat greens as often as I can, because until recently, I didn't think you could get them around here.
Enter Pete Zimmer. He used to be the chef at Burbank's BBQ in Springdale. Ric and I were there for dinner not long before the restaurant closed its doors, and he and Gary Burbank told us about their trips down south to research all things barbecue. Pete did lots of "research" in Memphis (Gary's hometown) and learned from real experts. I'm not sure if that's where Pete learned to make collard greens, but he sure did perfect the recipe. His greens are insanely good. But Burbank's closed, and it would be awhile before I found his greens again.
In the meantime, a couple of weeks ago, I'm sitting in the Fox 19 studio, and for some reason, I had a craving for greens. One of my co-workers running camera that day, Ken Baker, said (somewhat surprised) "You like greens?" "Oh yeah! I love them," I said, "and I never get them because I don't know how to make them." So Ken told me, "I'll bring you some greens," and the following Monday he brought in a big batch of collard greens his mother, Eileen, had made! How nice is that? And they were fantastic! I ate some of them for breakfast, and I took the rest home and served them with dinner that night. (I thought about hiding them in the fridge at home and keeping them all for myself, but my daughter Katie loves them almost as much as I do!) My family raved about them! And you know what else? Miss Eileen sent me her recipe! So easy - she makes them in the Crockpot!
But before I even got to try the recipe, I got another gift of greens! Enter Pete Zimmer again. Now he's the owner of SmoQ in Tri-County, and his chef Jackson Rouse was on the show for a recent segment on Cincinnati Beer Week. Pete told Jackson, "If you're going to see Sheila, you'd better take her some greens." And he did! Oh, happy day! I had greens two weeks in a row!
I searched around online to find out about the history of greens. Found this in a Yahoo article: "They've been eaten for centuries, even dating back to prehistoric times. Ancient Greeks grew kale along with collards, and the Romans grew several kinds of collards before the Christian era. It's thought that either the Romans or the Celts introduced the vegetable to Britain and France in the 4th century B.C. With the arrival of the African slaves to the southern U.S. colonies came the Southern style of cooking collard greens. Like many foods that originated at the time, this way of cooking greens grew out of a need to provide food for their families and satisfy their hunger with the scraps that were thrown their way from the master's kitchen. They would be given ham hocks, pig's feet, and the tops of greens, and would turn these leftovers into a meal that created the famous southern greens."
Now they're a must for the table down south, and some people even make them healthier by cooking them with smoked turkey instead of the traditional ham hock or jowls. To me they're a treat, so I say go full fat!
And I still haven't had enough. Today is my birthday. Guess where I wanted to go for my special day? SmoQ - to get greens - a double order. They're soooooo good.