Collard Green Ramen
Chef Todd Richards is making a delicious dish with ham hocks and pickled collard greens.

Ingredients for Ramen

  • Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks (RECIPE BELOW)
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) rice wine vinegar
  • quarts water
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ounces ramen noodles
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 Pickled Collard Green Stems (RECIPE BELOW), chopped
  • scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 limes, each cut into 8 wedges or slices
  • 1 to 2 (2-ounce) packages nori chips (seaweed snacks)

Ingredients for for Smoked Ham Hocks

  • 4 smoked bacon slices
  • 3 bunches collard greens (1 1⁄2 to 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound smoked ham hocks, at room temperature
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) cold water
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) bourbon or whiskey
  • 1⁄2 cup (4 ounces) apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Ingredients for Pickled Collard Green Stems

  • 2 pounds collard green stems
  • cups (64 ounces) water
  • 48 cups distilled water
  • 1⁄4 cup pickling salt
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 ounces) white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 1 poblano chile, cut into 2-inch squares
  • 1 serrano chile, cut into 8 rings
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed

Directions for Ramen

1. Prepare the Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks. (Don’t chop the bacon.) Keep the bacon and chopped ham hock meat separate after cooking. Set aside.

2. Bring the vinegar, 12 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a stockpot over high. Slip the eggs into the water. Cover; boil exactly 5 minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Let stand 5 minutes; peel and set aside. Discard the water from the pot.

3. Add the remaining 8 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to the stockpot, and bring to a boil over high. Add the ramen noodles, and stir to ensure the noodles do not stick together. Boil about 4 minutes or until tender. Drain.

4. Place 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce in each of 4 ramen bowls. Divide ramen noodles evenly among bowls. Arrange about 2 tablespoons of the chopped ham hock meat in each bowl beside the noodles. Place about 1⁄4 cup of the collard greens on top of the noodles in each bowl using tongs. Ladle 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups potlikker from Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks into each bowl.

5. Cut the eggs in half. Place 2 halves on each bowl. Top with the bacon slices from Collard Greens with Smoked Ham Hocks and chopped Pickled Collard Green Stems.

6. Garnish bowls with sliced scallions. Sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve with the lime wedges and nori chips.

Directions for Smoked Ham Hocks

1. Freeze the bacon 25 minutes. Remove and cut the bacon crosswise into 1⁄8-inch pieces.

2. Fill a sink with cold water. Place a cutting board near the sink. Stack 4 collard green leaves on top of each other. Remove the stems with a sharp knife, and reserve for Pickled Collard Green Stems recipe. Cut the leaves into 2-inch squares. Repeat with remaining collard green leaves, and rinse in cold water. Drain.

3. Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart stockpot over medium. Add the bacon. Cook until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, reserving the drippings in pot. Reserve the bacon pieces for garnish.

4. Return the pot to medium. Cook the onions and garlic in the hot bacon drippings 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the ham hocks, and cook 5 minutes, turning every 45 seconds or so. Pour 4 cups cold water over the ham hocks, and add the bourbon and vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook 25 minutes.

5. Stir in one-fourth of the collards. Continue adding the collards, one-fourth at a time, stirring after each addition. After all collards have been added, simmer 2 minutes.

6. Sprinkle the collards with the salt and black pepper, and cook until the greens are tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the red pepper flakes. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

7. Meanwhile, remove the ham hocks; cool slightly. Pull the meat from the bone. Chop the meat and add it to the collards. Discard the bones. Return the meat to the pot with the greens, and stir. Discard the bones.

8. To serve, sprinkle the collard greens with the reserved bacon. Garnish with the Pickled Collard Green Stems.

Note: One bunch of large collard greens is 8 to 10 large leaves or 1 ½ to 2 pounds. One bunch of baby collard greens is 12 to 16 leaves, about 1 ¼ pounds. Don’t use a bunch that’s larger than 2 pounds or the leaves will be tough and bitter and the stems woody.

Directions for Collard Green Stems

1. Fill a 2-gallon stockpot half-full with water. Place 8 (1-quart) jars and their lids in the water bath. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes to sterilize the jars and lids. Remove the jars and lids using tongs or a jar lifter. Reduce heat to low and maintain a simmer.

2. Fill a sink with cold water. Place a cutting board near the sink. Cut the collard green stems into 2-inch pieces and rinse in cold water. Drain.

3. Bring the 8 cups water to a boil in a separate stockpot over medium-high. Blanch the stems, 2 cups at a time, in the boiling water, 2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Transfer the blanched stems to the ice bath.

4. Bring the distilled water to a boil in a 2-gallon stockpot over medium. Add the pickling salt, vinegars, peppercorns, and bay leaves, and cook until the salt is dissolved.

5. Transfer the collard green stems to the hot sterilized jars; top evenly with the chiles, pink peppercorns, and crushed garlic.

6. Pour the pickling salt mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, reserving the peppercorns. Discard the remaining solids. Divide the black peppercorns evenly among the jars. Pour enough of the pickling liquid evenly into the jars to cover the collard green stems, filling to 1⁄2 inch from the top of each jar.

7. Wipe jar rims; cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands (snug but not too tight). Place jars in simmering water in the stockpot. Add additional boiling water as needed to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Simmer about 20 minutes or until jar lids are set. (Follow the jar manufacturer’s instructions for a good seal.)

8. Remove from heat. Cool jars in the water bath for 15 minutes. Transfer the jars to a cutting board; let stand at least 3 days before using. Store in a cool, dry place at room temperature. Refrigerate after opening. Makes 8 (1-quart) jars

Excerpted from Soul by Todd Richards. Copyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

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