These 15-Minute Greens Taste Like They Braised All Day

Bon Appétit

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the dishes and drinks you can make with your eyes closed.

The beauty of braised greens is that they cook forever. They don’t mind that your attention is elsewhere—on a skillet of frying chicken, maybe, or a pot full of mac and cheese. They don’t care that you’re only occasionally remembering to stir. Between the smoky pork at the base (usually ham hocks or bacon), the sturdiness of the greens themselves (collards typically, but chard or kale would do), and all the added liquid (your most flavorful chicken or vegetable broth), you can’t screw them up. Forgetting about the greens on a low back burner only deepens their tenderness and flavor.

The downside of braised greens is that they cook forever. If you don’t have the luxury of time, it’s natural to think you’ll have to look elsewhere, perhaps to a massaged kale salad, to get your greens fix. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Yes, you are going to have to pay a little more attention to your pan, because things happen quickly when collards aren’t swimming in stock. And yes, you will have to forgo the smoked meat, instead leaning on the fast-moving dream team of smoked paprika (I love Burlap & Barrel’s) and butter. These two ingredients add a world of complexity and richness, and just happen to keep the whole thing vegetarian.

The resulting greens are delightfully tangy and robust, with the fibrousness and bitterness cooked out—all in just 15 minutes.

Here’s how to make Speedy Smoky Collards:

Heat 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic (dealer’s choice here, but I usually go for 4 or 5). Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is just softened, about 1 minute. Add 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is homogeneous and fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add 2 large bunches of collard greens (leaves roughly torn, stems discarded), ½ cup water, 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Then cover and continue to cook until collards are tender, about 5 more minutes. You might get a little browning at at the edges—this is great and only adds to the smoky flavor. Turn off the heat; add 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter and toss until melted.

I love these greens with other vegetarian soul food sides to fill out a plate (black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and a biscuit!), but they go well with just about everything, from roast chicken to seared fish.

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Author:Kendra Vaculin |

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