Smoked turkey legs and a touch of sugar bring sweet and smoky flavor to these classic Southern-style collard greens. My favorite smoke-injection system for a pot of collards is smoked turkey legs, which are surprisingly simple to make (but also available at most megamarts). They impart just the right amount of smoky goodness without overwhelming the natural flavor of the greens, and they contribute a fair amount of collagen, which of course breaks down into gelatin to provide considerable lip-smacking body. Make sure to weigh the greens after stemming, but before washing. This recipe first appeared in Season 8 of Good Eats.
ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 quart water
- 1 1/2 pounds smoked turkey legs
- 2 pounds stemmed collard or turnip greens
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Place the water and turkey legs in an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Cover, bring to a boil, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, remove any large stems from the greens and wash them thoroughly in a sink filled with at least 5 inches of water. Move the leaves around in the water, then let them sit for a few minutes to allow any sand or dirt to fall to the bottom of the sink. Once clean, chop pieces in half. You should have 2 pounds of greens once they are stemmed. (Weigh the greens after stemming, but before washing.)
Once the turkey legs have simmered for 10 minutes, add the greens, salt, and sugar, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer gently until the greens are tender, about 45 minutes, stirring the greens every 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Remove the turkey legs and save for another use or shred into the greens, if desired. Serve immediately.