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Grandma Sally’s Collard Greens

This collard greens recipe is one of my most nostalgic family recipes, as I have fond memories of preparing and washing the greens with my grandmother. We would spend hours scrubbing each individual leaf relentlessly until it was free of grit and sand, and boil the greens for hours to ensure nothing but the silky and smoky aroma of the ham hocks were left infused into the once bitter leaves. This time intensive process is what first lent me a greater appreciation for cooking and the time that goes into preparing a dish for your loved ones. Another aspect that I love about this dish is that my Grandma, Aiko, tweaked some of the ingredients in the classic southern recipe that my great grandma, Sally, taught her, imbuing it with Japanese flavor. My grandmother’s alterations to Sally’s recipe add immensely to the complexity of the flavor profile and create an incredible batch of greens that are the highlight of every meal they are a part of.


  • 6 small bunches collard greens 
  • 1 extra large smoked ham hock 
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 1 tbsp bacon grease 
  • 1/2 tbsp salt 
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2  tsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar 
  • ½-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/4 tsp paprika 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion


Preparing the Greens:

  1. First, gently pull and tear greens away from stems. Then take a hand full of separated greens, roll them up, and cut the rolls horizontally into small pieces. 
  2. Next, add the greens to an empty clean sink or a strainer and wash them thoroughly with cold water to remove all the grit, sand, and debris. 

The Cooking Process:

  1. Rinse the ham hock thoroughly and then add it to a large pot along with enough water to fully submerge it. Cover with a lid and cook over medium high heat for roughly 45 minutes or until the ham hock is near tender. 
  2. Once the ham hock is almost tender, add the greens and 4-5 additional cups of water (or enough to just barely cover greens to the pot). 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and cook the greens down while covered for at least 2 hours or until completely tender. Most of the water will have evaporated, and you should be left with just enough to barely cover the greens.
  4. Let the greens cool for a bitserving. Enjoy!

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