Smoky Collards & Kale, For Edith & Fanny

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Old-time Southern collards are cooked for a real long time with a ham hock or two and a lot of water so you’ll have plenty of “pot likker.” I’m not an old-time Southern chef. But I do like smoky flavor, so I start my greens with smoked bacon and add a little bit of liquid smoke at the end. Combining collards and kale gives the dish more complexity than you’d get from just one green. I can’t resist adding a twist. Here, it’s a little bite from fresh ginger.

Look for kale with small leaves. If you can find Red Russian kale, use it; the color bleeds, so the juices will have a beautiful jewel tone.

Prep Details

Servings: Serves 8


6 slices thick-cut bacon

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons dry white wine

¾ cup vegetable stock

4 cups very thinly sliced stemmed collard greens

Kosher salt

4 cups very thinly sliced stemmed kale

½ tablespoon liquid smoke

Freshly ground black pepper


photo credit:  flickr | iratxecrespo

photo credit: flickr | iratxecrespo

1.     Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble into small pieces.

2.     Pour out all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic, shallots, and ginger. Sauté until the garlic is lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and stock and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any browned bits.

3.     Stir in the collards and season with salt. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the kale, cover, and cook until the greens are tender and the liquid is almost gone, about 20 minutes. If the liquid is cooking away too quickly, turn down the heat. Stir in the liquid smoke and bacon and season with salt and pepper.

Sidebar: Add some chopped apples and a simple vinaigrette to any leftovers and you’ve got a great salad.