All soul food isn’t created equally. If your fried fish is bland, if your macaroni and cheese is soupy, or if your chicken wings aren’t crispy, your food is suspect. Point blank. Another holy grail item you can’t mess up: collard greens. Everybody’s greens taste a little different, but good greens should always be a little spicy, a little savory, a little smoky, and just a little bit funky.
Blacksauce Kitchen [401 W. 29th St., blacksaucekitchen.com] isn’t a soul food place per se, but owners Damian Mosley and Vesnier Lugo know their way around collard greens and other vegetables too (brussels sprouts, green beans, and mustard greens all make appearances on the ever-changing menu in their brick-and-mortar Remington carryout, open Thursdays). Their greens aren’t the kind that I grew up eating (my dad uses smoked turkey necks to season his), but the coconut, ginger, and chiles are, for me, a nod to the Caribbean, and the way black people all over are united by food. This issue arrives out right before Thanksgiving, when I’ll be eating greens in abundance. So, I asked the folks at Blacksauce to allow us to publish their recipe. Lucky for all of us, they said yes. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)
Coconut Milk-Braised Collard Greens (serves 8-10 folks)
- 8 bunches of collards, cut into ribbons, and washed twice
- 1 cup onions, diced
- 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. fresh ground peppercorns
- 1 tsp. ground chilies (e.g., habaneros, scotch bonnet, or bird’s eye)
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 12 oz. coconut milk
1. In a stockpot, saute the onions, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger.
2. Add greens, salt, pepper, chilies. Cover and steam the greens for 5-7 minutes.
3. Uncover, add vinegar and coconut milk. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes until greens are dark, tender, and not overly acidic from the vinegar.
4. Refrigerate and eat the next day as the greens will improve in flavor overnight.