Collard greens with pancetta, ham and beans is a real favorite in our house. I serve this Southern collard greens recipe with a side of white rice for a delicious meal anytime of year.
While I am not from the deep south in the U.S., I am from the east coast and raised around traditional Southern food growing up in Florida. When I think of traditional southern food I think of BBQ with all the sides.
Collard Greens is always a side to southern BBQ along with biscuits, mac and cheese, coleslaw and a few more usual suspects. When I moved to Texas, they have their own version of BBQ and none of it includes these delicious Southern sides.
Texas BBQ has potato salad, white squishy bread and pickles. Nothing else.
I do love living here in Texas but I also had to learn how to make these southern side dishes at home if we wanted to eat them.
Collard greens are definitely my favorite of the southern BBQ side dishes and that is what I created first. Traditionally, this dish is made with ham hocks but I have changed it the recipe up a bit.
About this easy collard green recipe:
I did put my own twist on this collard green recipe by adding pancetta and ham. Both of these impart that delicious meaty flavor you would get from the ham hocks.
The other addition to the traditional collard greens recipe is adding pinto beans. Some people do this in their cooking of collard greens so it is not revolutionary but I really like the additional nutrition that it adds to the dish making it a full meal.
I also make this recipe without the beans too. It tastes great both ways!
This collard greens with pancetta, ham and beans is a little spicy, a little sweet and a little tart all rounded out with a delicious meaty profile. The exact way collard greens should taste.
The steps to making this collard green recipe is very simple.
It is a little bit of sauteing and then adding your ingredients into a large pot to simmer away to allow all the flavors to come together and to wilt down the collard greens.
It will take a lot of collard greens to make this dish. Much like other leafy green vegetables, it will cook down quite a bit in the simmering process. I will usually buy 3 large bags of chopped collard greens when making this dish.
If you are unable to fit all the greens in the pot at once, just give the heat a little time to cook it down then you can cram some more into the pot until all of your greens are in there.
You can make this as a full meal like I do or you can serve it as a side dish at a BBQ or potluck. You can serve it alongside some dijon steak tips for a BBQ side or just with a side of rice. I promise no matter when you serve it, it will be a hit!
Collar Greens with Pancetta, Ham and Pinto Beans
- 2 large bags of chopped collard greens about 32 ounces per bag
- 32 ounces unsalted chicken stock
- 8 ounces diced pancetta
- 2 15 ounce cans of pinto beans rinsed You can also use dried pinto beans. To cook dried pinto beans: Boil the the dried pinto beans in a pot of water (making sure the water covers the beans) until tender.
- 1 ham steak cubed about 8 ounces
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar you can also use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 shallot diced finely
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes You can use less if you want it less spicy.
- 1 tbsp salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- In a very large pot, heat your olive oil over medium heat.
- Add your red pepper flakes and let it cook for a minute.
- Dice your shallots and add them to the heated pot and cook for 3 minutes.
- Now add your diced pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes or until the pancetta renders some of its fat and starts to crisp up a little.
- Mince your garlic and then add that to your pot and cook for 2 minutes.
- Now add your chicken stock and mix well.
- Start adding your collard greens to the pot. Try to fit as much in as possible and place lid on the pot.
- Simmer on medium heat for a few minutes and if you still need to add more of your collard greens, try to do that now. You can shove them into the pot if you need to.
- Cook for another few minutes stirring and tossing the collard greens around a bit in the pot.
- Now add your diced ham, sugar, vinegar, salt & pepper.
- Mix this in well.
- Cover your pot and turn the heat down to a simmer on low.
- Cook for about 1 hour making sure to stir occasionally (every 15 minutes).
- After 1 hour, taste for seasoning. Add more salt if needed.
- Add your canned or cooked dried beans (if using) and mix them in gently and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately or let come to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 2 days.