- A mess of fresh collard greens
- Enough water to cover in a pot
- Equal parts sugar and salt, to taste
- Ham hock, thick bacon or fatback, as preferred
Wash and rinse the greens thoroughly to remove grit. Place ham hocks in an extra-large pot with enough water to completely cover them. Add salt and cook ham hocks at least 30 minutes before adding collards greens. Add collards, big leaves first (let them start boiling), then add remainder of greens. Cook 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring once about midway to ensure thorough cooking. Test for tenderness of stems 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 pot likker if the greens are too dry. Salt to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature. Some favorite collard green toppings include hot pepper, vinegar (with or without chopped onions), salsa or tomatoes.