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I have long been intimidated by collard greens – I thought they required copious amounts of braising and needed to sit on the stove for hours. However, these leafy greens are available locally through the winter, so I scooped them up when I saw them on sale at the grocery store. I happily discovered they require only 30 minutes of hands off cooking, and pair beautifully with the cheesy grits and lemon butter shrimp my boyfriend and I made for Valentine’s Day.

A few notes: though these greens can cook up in 30 minutes, you can let them go for longer, if your prefer. Also, they benefit from a little punch of heat, so pair with the hot sauce of your choice.

1/4 pound slab bacon, diced
5 garlic cloves, slivered
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large bunch of collard greens (about 1 1/2 – 2lbs), stems removed and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Juice from half a lemon

1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned around the edges. Note that the bacon shouldn’t be crisped through.

2. Add the garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Saute for a minute or two, until the garlic is fragrant.

3. Add the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the collard greens and and bring to a simmer, then reduce the temp to medium-low. Cook – stirring occasionally – until the collard greens have wilted and have lost their brightness – atleast 30 minutes. For more tender greens, cook up to one hour.

4. When collards are done to your liking, drizzle with lemon juice and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve with pan juices and hot sauce, if desired.