This is a family recipe from my friend, Andra Cook of Raleigh, North Carolina. Andra says, “It is difficult to measure weight and size for each serving. My mother-in-law, Belle Cook, says she buys a grocery bag full and can serve four with that. Collard greens are available eight months out of the year in the South. I do not include June through September because the greens are much better after they have a ‘good hard frost.’ That’s not to say you can not get them in the other months (June-September), but the taste is much better after the frost.”
Wash greens thoroughly approximately 3 or 4 times) to ensure they are clean and free of insects. It is best if you rinse each leaf individually.
To prepared the greens, tear each leaf from its thick center stems; discard stems. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand. The tender young leaves in the heart of the collard greens do not need to be stripped. Discard all stems. Set collard greens aside until ready to cook.
Place ham hocks in an extra-large pot with enough water to completely cover them. Add salt and cook ham hocks 30 to 60 minutes before adding the collards greens. You want the ham hocks to be falling apart before you add the collard greens.
Add prepared collard greens, large leaves first (let the water start boiling first), then add remainder of greens. Note that young collard greens will cook up rather quickly. and the older greens may take upwards of 45 minutes to tenderize. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once about midway to ensure thorough cooking. Throughout the cooking process, check the water level and add more as needed to replace what's lost through evaporation. Test for tenderness at 45 minutes by piercing with a sharp knife. Cook additional time if necessary.
Remove from heat and drain in a colander, reserving the juice (pot likker).
Chop collards with a collard chopper or a knife, leaving no large leaves or pieces. Add some of the juice (pot likker) if the greens are too dry. Salt to taste.
Serve hot or at room temperature with your choice of toppings.
* When buying collards, make sure to choose dark green leaves with no wilting or yellowness. Remember collard greens cook down, so purchase enough for your family. Fresh collard greens may be stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Collard Greens Recipe: https://whatscookingamerica.net/Vegetables/CollardGreens.htm